How to Balance College and Parenting

As a professional world becomes increasingly competitive, many adults decide to begin, or continue, post-secondary education after having children. Educational institutions have responded to spikes in nontraditional student enrollment by offering flexible scheduling and distance learning. Students who wish to balance college and parenting must manage their time efficiently, and should have a spouse, family member, or hired help to assist with child care.


  1. Image titled Balance College and Parenting Step 1
    Research different types of schools, making note of the benefits each school offers for students with children.
    • Traditional universities, community colleges, technical schools and correspondence schools offer options including on-site daycare, online courses and part-time scheduling. These options may be limited to special adult degree programs, or they may encompass all departments.
    • As you search for a school, inquire about other convenience factors that are important to you. These may include family housing, lactation rooms, support groups, ample parking and proximity to school or daycare.
  2. Image titled Balance College and Parenting Step 2
    Enroll in enough courses to be productive in obtaining your degree while keeping a manageable schedule.
    • It is common for parents to be overzealous during enrollment, only to find themselves dropping courses later because they've taken on too much of a workload. The amount of coursework you can manage will vary depending on your child's age, the child's activity level and how much assistance you have with child care.
    • If you are unsure of what constitutes a reasonable course load, ask your academic adviser how other students with children typically designate their credit hours.
  3. Image titled Balance College and Parenting Step 3
    Schedule at least 1 hour per day, per enrolled credit, of quiet study time. This should occur outside of school or work, and during a time when children are in school, daycare or being cared for by someone else.
  4. Image titled Balance College and Parenting Step 4
    Explain to your child the reasons you are returning to school. Discuss assignments and classroom experiences with your family.
    • Your child is more likely to accept your spending time away while attending school if the child understands how your degree or certificate will benefit the family. You serve as a positive role model when your child sees you working to meet educational goals, and your own schoolwork can introduce him to new educational topics.


  • Be honest about the fact that you are a parent when you miss coursework due to family emergencies, but do not expect special treatment. Your status as a parent is not an excuse for failure, but many instructors will offer an occasional assignment extension or make-up exam when you are in a bind.
  • Enroll in courses to obtain a professional certificate or license if you are not yet ready to commit to a degree program. Once you have some experience balancing parenting and college you can decide whether you are ready to earn a degree.
  • Some post-secondary programs offer credits for life experience. If you've spent significant time working in an industry, but do not have a degree or certification, you may be able earn credits by reporting the skills and knowledge you've picked up on the job.

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Categories: College University and Postgraduate | Parenting