No one understands the challenges of juggling time, energy, and resources better than working mothers. Today, nearly 73 percent of mothers with children under 18 participate in the labor force.1 Whether they’re working from home, part-time or full-time, or at a jobsite, working moms often struggle with managing their personal lives and job commitments, especially those who have young children or work long or irregular hours. The idea of adding college classes to an already jam-packed daily schedule while trying to maintain a work-life balance can be daunting.
Still, many moms find that achieving that next level of education can be the key to a better life for themselves and their families. And with the right combination of online courses, flexible scheduling, resources and support, and good time management, working moms are making it work.
Online Programs Work for Working Moms
Choosing the right school is critically important to a student’s success. Online programs offer the flexibility that traditional in-class learning cannot. The ability to attend classes wherever you are and to study on your own schedule can make a big difference.
LaNette Berard is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a mother who earned her MS in Management with a specialization in information systems and services at UMGC. She felt online learning was a great fit for her as a parent.
"I loved it, because I could go and sit down in front of computer and log in when I needed to, or when it was—I won't say 'convenient,' because we had deadlines and things like that,” Berard said. “But, it was much more convenient than having to go to a class and sit there when I have family.”
Berard said online classes allowed her to continue her education no matter what was going on in her life.
“You know, we all have emergencies that may come up,” said Berard. “I may have to travel somewhere or attend family events, and I would just take my laptop with me so I could finish up my homework and do what I needed to do.”
Dominique Davenport is a mother of a one-year-old and a five-year-old. She recently graduated from UMGC with a master’s degree in information technology project management. Like Berard, she also found the flexibility of online learning key to her success.
“Being able to have that flexible schedule to spend time with my children has been amazing and very rewarding,” she said.
Student Support Can Make the Difference
Jana Anderson is a working mother of three children, ages 16, four, and two. Having recently graduated with Master of Business Administration from UMGC, she describes the challenges she faced as a working mother going to school.
“Being at work all day and then having to come home and have the bandwidth to manage this workload, as well as being a mom and a supportive wife, some days I didn't know if I was coming or going,” Anderson said. “The big difference was the support I received. I felt like my UMGC advisor was constantly in touch with me, to check on me and just hear me vent sometimes. It felt good to me that there was someone that I could talk to that wanted me to succeed. And I just kept pushing.”
Berard faced her own set of challenges in earning her degree. Not only was she a mom and a student, but she was also a military servicemember serving overseas.
"I was in the U.S. Air Force living in Germany when I started at UMGC,” said Berard. “And with all the stress of traveling and moving, and having children to look after, I was very impressed that UMGC understood my situation. My professors were super understanding."
Moms Share Tips for Success
Being able to balance so many responsibilities can be daunting, but moms who’ve been there can offer advice for strategies for success.
Anderson advises moms to share the workload, whether that means reaching out to friends and family or to UMGC when you need to.
“Lean on your family and friends to babysit your children sometimes,” Anderson said, “so that you can take an hour to read or do an assignment. And call on your UMGC advisors for the resources that they have available to help you, as well.”
Anderson also found it really important to set aside some "me time.”
“Sometimes it would be hard to step away when I had toddlers running around,” says Anderson. “But it felt good to be able to lean on those around me and take a little time for myself. Then after that, I could come back to my laptop, and I'm like, ‘Where was I? What was I writing about? Okay,’ and jump right back in.”
Davenport said it’s critical to keep your eyes on the prize, to remember what you’re doing it for—and for whom.
“If you have dreams and goals and aspirations, always work hard and keep your mind focused,” Davenport said. “Have that mindset to work for the future, the future of yourself and your children.”
Anderson said even on days when you feel like giving up, keeping your end goals in mind can carry you through.
“Don't give up,” Anderson said. “Keep pushing, and you will definitely be successful. You'll make it to the finish line.”