Many stay-at-home moms find they need additional education or training before they can return to work after a divorce. With school starting, now’s a good time to consider whether you might go back to school along with your children. Whether you need to finish high school by earning you GED or you want to earn a college degree, additional education will open new opportunities. If it’s not realistic for you to attend a full-time college because of financial constraints or child care obligations, consider part-time attendance while working or caring for your children. Getting a degree will take longer, but going to school part time can make a lot of sense for busy older students. If you are lucky enough to have spousal support or alimony, take advantage of it and attend classes full time–you won’t regret it.
Take Your Time Deciding
After a difficult divorce, many people want to get their life back in order quickly, so they make radical changes right away without really thinking about whether they are emotionally prepared to handle the new experiences. It’s a good idea to take plenty of time to think about what you really want to do with the rest of your life and whether it makes sense for you to return to school before taking a plunge. Many community colleges offer an orientation course entitled “college success” where they teach you study skills, time management, how to deal with stress, and many other skills needed to succeed in college.
Thinking About a New Career
A divorce can offer the opportunity of a lifetime and allow you to take advantage of new options. Talk to friends, family, and professional career counselors about what’s right for you. Many community and four-year colleges offer career counseling services—use them. Meet with career experts to learn about your abilities and interests. Talk to college administrators about receiving credit for your work-experiences because that will help you finish your degree sooner.
Learn How to Use A Computer
If you didn’t grow up using an i-pad, smart-phone, or laptop, take the time before you return to college to learn how computers work. You don’t need to learn how to program a computer, but you should know how to use work processing programs, spread sheets, search engines, and the like.
Finding Financial Support
If you qualify, there are several sources of financial support available from colleges, including scholarship and fellowship programs. Meet with a student aid counselor to find out what’s available or contact the U.S. Department of Education about their Guide to financial support options.
Consider A Two-Year Community College
Many community colleges offer GED programs if you aren’t ready for college. If you are ready to start or return to college, consider beginning with a two-year program. They are more flexible, less expensive, and tailored to prepare you for employment. Many community colleges have special programs for adults returning to finish their college work and they offer remedial courses to get you started studying again.
Take Advantage of Your Experience
Since you may be older than many regular students, take advantage of your varied experiences and build on your strengths. Being wiser and more insightful can help in many classes. Find other people who are in a similar situation and form a support/study group. Use the self-discipline you developed going through the divorce to keep up on assignments, turn papers in on time, and do the hours of studying needed to succeed at college.
Don’t make any decisions immediately after your divorce–take time to think about what you want to do for the rest of your life. As a first step, take an orientation course on how to succeed in college. Spend time thinking about what careers might interest you. Talk with a professional career counselor about your academic strengths and interests. Take time to learn about computers before you return to school if you don’t already know how to use one. There are lots of options for college financial support, including scholarships, fellowships, part time work, and student loans. Think about starting at a two-year college because they are less expensive, tailored to the returning student, and more employment focused. Use your past experiences to help you succeed. Go ahead, return to college–you will do fine.