Returning to higher education: Tips for parents in college

December 07, 2021 · 5 min read · By ASU Online
Going back to college as a parent? Use our tips below to develop strategies to balance parenting and other responsibilities when you head back to class. 

Knowing what you want to get out of your college experience is the first step in building an effective plan to reach your academic goals. Things to consider while planning include:

  • Choosing a program that matches with your professional aspirations.
  • How you’ll balance your family and career responsibilities with your academic pursuit.
  • Knowing the steps to take to complete your degree on schedule.
  • Learning how to build positive relationships with fellow students.
  • Making a plan to dedicate the necessary time to studying and coursework.


Find the right college that supports your goals

When going back to school as a parent, the top priority is finding a school and degree that can align with your goals and be worth the time, effort and money you’ve invested.

Look for universities that offer relevant and well-regarded programs in your field of interest. If you aren’t sure about which degree or certificate is best for you, you can speak with an enrollment coach to determine the best program for your professional and personal goals.

Pay attention to differentiators such as faculty accolades, as well as rankings from third parties with a reputation for impartiality and conducting strong research. Arizona State University offers nearly 300 programs online that are taught by renowned faculty, and has received prestigious recognition from organizations such as the National Science Foundation, U.S. News & World Report and Times Higher Education.

When you’re ready to apply, look into scholarships and financial aid that can help cover tuition costs. Eighty percent of ASU Online students receive some type of financial aid.


How online learning can support parents in college

Online learning is designed with flexibility in mind, making it easier to progress toward your degree on your schedule while still spending time with your family and addressing any other responsibilities. 

Most of ASU Online’s asynchronous classes are 7.5 weeks long, which means you can start off with a light course load and add more later on when you’re confident you can dedicate the additional time to your studies. 

Additionally, online learning can align with the needs of parents who may not be able to completely free themselves from distractions for extended periods of time.

“My desk is in the middle of my house and opens up to a room that doubles as my kids’ playroom,” said Brian Hood, ASU Online student and parent. “To say that I had challenges while trying to listen to lectures is an understatement. I recommend investing in a good pair of headphones, and be willing to pause and rewatch your lectures. Going to school online allows for more freedom to be able to pause when you need to. I know it's tough, but in the end, it is absolutely, indescribably, unbelievably worth it.”


Access student services that support success

Your family can be a source of support when going to school with kids, and so can your university. Take advantage of services that address your needs as a student and parent, preparing you to adjust, adapt and thrive in higher education. These services can guide you through each semester while you grow as a professional and build relevant expertise.

When you take part in an ASU Online program, you can access student services such as:

  • Counseling and life services.
  • Student wellness services.
  • Success coaching.
  • Technical resources.
  • Time management coaching.

Also consider networking with professors and learners in your program, with an emphasis on building connections with your fellow student parents who can be another source of support.

Create a schedule and follow it ... I know that as parents we often multitask ... Giving yourself a basic routine is a tremendous help.

Lauren Dohr

ASU Online student

Practice time management and good study habits

Parenting while in college requires a carefully balanced schedule, making it important to consider the approach that works best for you.

Map out a realistic timeframe for completing your degree, then build a schedule that sets aside the necessary time to study, complete projects, care for your children and be present in your household. Determine when you can be free of distractions and perform best as a student.

“Create a schedule and follow it,” said Lauren Dohr, ASU Online student and parent. “If early mornings work best, set that alarm and grab your coffee! Even after the kiddos’ bedtime routine and you’ve told so many stories your throat is raw, don’t slow down. Make some hot tea and get studying. Creating a daily routine helps you develop productive habits and stay focused. I know that as parents we often multitask, like studying while making dinner or cleaning the house. Giving yourself a basic routine is a tremendous help.”

You can also talk with your family about the need for time to focus on your academic success.

“You have to be organized and know that there are no shortcuts,” said Cherise Shockley, ASU Online student and parent. “If a problem comes up, make sure to speak up and ask when you need help. If you are married or have kids, you have to tell your family what’s going on, making sure to sit down and talk to them. Explain to them that this will require a time commitment, but, in the end, will be worth it.”


You can be a parent and earn your degree

ASU Online recognizes the unique challenges and rewards that come along with going back to school as a parent. Our rigorous yet supportive learning environment incorporates valuable resources for students that prepare you for the future. We believe in your ability to influence change and shape a better world for you and your family.

Time management tips for parents

ASU Online student and brand ambassador Lauren Dohr shares her top five time management tips for fellow parents.


About ASU Online

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Our offerings include:

  • Elite expertise and research.
  • Innovative curriculum design.
  • Superior student support services.

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