The Basics

Managing responsibilities

Being a student with major family responsibilities is an interesting, but not insurmountable situation. The traditional student, right out of high school, with little family obligation beyond the occasional phone call home can more easily focus on school. But where does that leave the non-traditional student who has financial responsibility, caretaking obligations, family stuff that leaves less time for coursework and study? What it leaves is an individual who is going to have to work hard, but who brings solid commitment to the table. And that’s not always the case for young students who are only responsible for themselves.

Finding the time and the money to take classes are probably two of the biggest obstacles for a student with family and work responsibilities.

Going to school takes time. It will be important that you lay out a schedule that will give you enough time to attend your classes, but also, give you the flexibility and time you need to study. See if your school offers any kind of childcare program. Sometimes colleges and universities have daycare centers available for short-term care of children while parents are in class or at the library. Many students enlist family members to babysit for children, or to help with older adults if you are caring for your parent. Many ask around the neighborhood to find young adults who can be available as a helper to play with your kids, help kids with homework, while you take some time to get ahead on your own school work. The key to any schedule is planning ahead. Using a calendar can help you be more successful as you juggle your own schedule with that of your family members and caretakers – with clear time for school work, home, family and your job.

Finding a way to finance your education, especially if funds are tight, or you need to support your family, can be a challenge. But some research, made easier by access to the Internet, will probably yield some interesting options for paying your way through school. Grants, scholarships, and loans are often available to students committed to gaining a degree, especially students in difficult financial situations. Not everyone can pay the cost of higher education, but funds are out there to assist you. The financial aid office at your school should also be able to offer you ideas. Taking advantage of school financial programs can allow you to focus more on your schoolwork without worrying about your funds as much.

Being a student is a challenge, being a student with family responsibility is an even bigger challenge. With commitment and motivation, the challenges you face will make you a superb student, and potentially an even better employee. Plan, plan, plan, and commit to the decision you’ve made to further your career by educating yourself. It will all be worth it in the end.