Being a Student and a Mom
When I became pregnant with my first child, both myself and my husband were college students and working full time. I was majoring in education and my husband was a business major. During my nine month pregnancy, all of our energy was poured into getting my husband finished with school so I could stay at home when our child was born.
When my daughter was born, I was able to become a stay-at-home-mom like we hoped for. However, our lives were not filled with play dates, breastfeeding, library visits and pajama days as I expected. They were filled with physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, doctor appointments, and tube feedings. Her health issues and developmental delays opened my eyes to a world I never knew existed! Before her arrival, my knowledge of speech therapy was for people who stuttered or had lisps, or elderly people who suffered from strokes. Through first hand experience, I learned that speech therapists not only help with language delays, but they also are big time players in children who have feeding disorders like my child did. As my daughter grew and developed, we walked through some major feeding difficulties. We also introduced sign language to her to help her be able to communicate and are still working very diligently on verbal language. After the birth of my son, it became very clear to me that I wanted to be a Speech and Language Pathologist. Through talking with new moms going through similar feeding difficulties and sharing our experience and watching my child’s language develop, I have developed a passion for child development, specifically language and feeding development. I spoke to my husband about going back to school and received an enormous amount of support and encouragement from him. Darah’s speech pathologist, Angela was so sweet to give me all the nitty gritty details of the education program, tell me what speech pathologists were paid, and has cheered me as I have dived into finishing my degree!
Going back to school has been important to me for many reasons. One reason being that I really don’t like leaving things unfinished. I started college and it’s very important for me to finish it. I also want to set a good example to both of my children. I expect both of them to go to college (Darah too!) and I want to make sure they know that I do as I say. Another reason this specific degree is important to me is I really feel like it will help me parent Darah. Her speech is one of the most important things to me and I really want to give her every opportunity to be well spoken. It’s also important for me to be able to work if I ever needed to. I am watching my mom have to enter the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom for 25 years and have been sad at the difficulty she is having. She doesn’t have the option to stay home anymore, but finding a job that will balance out child care costs for my very young siblings still living at home has proven to be nearly impossible.
It’s amazing how much better of a student I am now that I have some age, wisdom, discipline, and experience on me that I didn’t have as an 18 and 19 year old!
Here’s some tips that have helped me as I finish my degree:
- You’re a mom first! Just like with any extra curricular activity, I have had to make a conscious effort to not allow my school to take over my responsibility and privilege of parenting Darah and Connor.
- Online! Online! Online! I had about 38 hours that I needed before I could start my true speech pathology courses. I took all but 8 hours of these online in a span of a year. Unfortunately, of the 14 classes I have left, I can only take 2 of these online now. However, there are plenty of degrees that you can finish completely online!
- RateMyProfessors.com! By going to this website, you can type in any school in the country, the teachers name and find out the nitty-gritty of the teacher by student reviews. If you need to take a hard course, you can use this tool to know which teacher will be the easiest! Way valuable!
- Sleep when you’re dead! I’m kidding. Make sure that you don’t push yourself too hard and you recognize your limits. I’m an “all-or-nothing” kind of gal, and have had to try to pace myself. I’m really not good at pacing myself, but have a husband who has said “slow down” when I’ve needed it. If you have been out of school for a long time, or are just starting college, start out by taking one course online and start gaging what you can handle
- Apply for financial aid! Even if you will not qualify for free assistance, a lot of schools use the government’s FAFSA to determine scholarships that are based on academic merit and not financial need. Hunt for local and national scholarship opportunities!
- Be careful about loans. We are having to get loans to pay for my college, and while I believe that college debt can be a smart investment, do not take more than you absolutely need. If you cannot afford to go back to school without taking out lots of loans, then maybe you should take less courses at a time and pay cash for them. The luxury of being a stay-at-home-mom college student, is there really isn’t a hurry for me to finish, other than the rush I have placed on myself.
- Recruit some cheerleaders! My husband has been my biggest cheerleader through this process. I also have some amazing friends who have been cheering me on as I take finals and check off more courses necessary to finish my degree. Without my support team, I think it would be very easy to give up.
- Just do it! I talked about going back to school for two years before I finally did it. I had valid excuses, however it took that first trip to the counselor’s office to really get me to start. Making that decision was the hardest step of this whole process.