Full-Time Parent, Full-Time Student: Managing going back to school as a full-time parent

Completing her education degree was always in the back of Marlene Kapish’s mind. However, as a mother of young children, it continually seemed to take a back seat.

Marlene isn’t the only person to have experienced this feeling. Each year, thousands of parents make the decision to go back to school to finish their degrees. Like Marlene, they struggle with the idea of leaving their home to learn and grow. “The biggest challenge to overcome during my program has been balancing and juggling multiple classes with extensive assignments all while trying to be a wife and a mother to four small children.” Marlene knew that completing her degree would be a long path, one that was sometimes trying, but she knew that in the end, she wouldn’t regret a moment of it.

Mark Joyella recounts that when his 7-year-old daughter wants a laugh, she says, “‘Daddy, did you do your homework today?’ She thinks it’s second-grade hilarious that her father is a student, with teachers, classmates--and lots and lots of homework.” When it comes down to completing an online distance-learning degree as a full-time parent, Mark says that for him, “the ‘distance’ in distance learning has little to do with my proximity to campus. It’s really about the distance I’m moving my career and life forward by earning this degree.”

For others, the story is similar to that of Rebecca Jackson-Artis. Rebecca was a stay-at-home mom for nine years before deciding to enroll in the Low-Residency MFA program at UGA. While things were tight financially, her family supported her throughout the whole process. “When people ask me how I like the UGA MFA screenwriting program, I list all of the reasons why this was one of the best decisions I ever made. My husband, mother and friends all see how this program has healed me and kept me out of a shame spiral. I've never felt so comfortable to be authentically me.”

Maddi Buchanan has a story with which many can relate. She was determined to get a bachelor’s degree, but with a newborn son, attending on-campus classes was difficult. After learning about the UGA Online BBA program, she decided it was the path for her. “As the mother of an infant, flexibility is key to my success. I take advantage of all the quiet time I can get,” she says. “Whether that means studying at the kitchen table during my son’s nap time, or heading to the local library once my husband gets home in the evening.” Maddi adds, “On the really busy days, I read and watch class videos with my son in a way that entertains him and allows me to get some work done.”

At the end of the day, finishing your degree as a full-time student and a full-time parent is an accomplishment, one that can be shared with your loved ones. You can show your children anything is possible if you put your mind to it. As Maddi says of her son, “I want to show him the value of perseverance and of education.