21 answers

Going Back to school...is It the Right Time?

Good Morning,
I am faced with making a really hard decision that I feel is a "catch 22". I was recently accepted to law school and was very excited, until I began making plans for my eight year old son. Due to the fact that I will have to continue to work to support the two of us, I will be in the Evening Program. For the past few years, I have taken my lunch to pick him up from school and take him to an after-school program. I then pick him up from the program when I get off work @ 5pm and we either go to football practice, track, boxing or whatever activity he's participating in and then home for homework and dinner. His father is barely around anyomore so for the next 4 years, I am going to need family and friends to pick him up from school, and I don't want to impose even more by asking them to commit to taking him to various activities.

Additionally, I will not have much time to spend with him anymore. My classes will be Mon-Thurs. 6-9 somtimes 10, so by the time I get out of class, he will be asleep.(I am trying to have someone at my place so that he can be home at bedtime and I won'thave to wake him every night to take him home).

The catch 22 is, do I go to school now, to provide a better life for us later, and afford to send him to college, or do I wait until he's in high school, when he's older and more self sufficient to pursue my law degree? I envy those if you who are stay @ home moms, I would love the option of going to school in the evenings when dad gets home from work, but that is definitely not an option for me. So please keep that in mind when replying.

BTW I am also looking for scholarships for single or working moms returning to school. I am also a minority, so any suggestions on where to look for scholarships would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Between a Rock and a Har Place

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I just finished my first semester of law school and my son and I both survived:) My sister picks him up from school and instead of me breaking his sleep and picking him up at 10pm, on the nights I get out of class late, I have him sleepover and I get to her house before he wakes up in the morning. It's been rough, but I'm managing and he's happy to be with his cousins, being an only child. I'm sure he misses me sometimes, but I make up for it every chance I get. It's semester break so we just finished playing Wii Sport and watching movies.

Thank you all for your responses and advice. I absolutely loved the advice about creating an email address for him and communicating that way. I haven't done it yet, but it's definitely on my things to do list. Actually I think I'll do it now. Thanks so much!

Featured Answers

Have you considered doing the middle of the road thing, just taking one class at a time? It really isn't any easier as a stay at home Mom. I started my classes when I was a single mother and I took one class at a time to minimize my time away from my son. I would highly recommend this way of doing it, it would make it affordable, and you would be a part of his life for the next 4 yrs. If you start full time in the evenings, it doesn't sound like you would be involved with him much and that would be awful for him and you, it might take longer but a lot can change in 4 yrs and maybe you could start full time next year for the year after. You don't need to give up one to have the other.

More Answers

T.,

It is a very hard decision to make and my heart goes out to you. I too have an 8 year old son. If it was me, I would wait until your son is just a little older. Right now they still need us so much and they do not understand why we are not there. Spending time with them when they are young is so critical for our bonding. Not only that, but before you know it he will be all grown up and you'll miss it all.

1 mom found this helpful

Congrats on getting into law school. I am president of the Oakland County Women's Bar Association please feel free to contact me (____@____.com) if I can help! The Women Lawyers Association of Michigan and the Straker Bar Foundation offer scholorships.

I would consider reducing your class load to 3 nights per week and/or considering asking your employee if you could take one class during the day.

When I was at Wayne State...there were sometimes kids in attendance at the night classes...so don't feel bad if you occassionally have to bring him. Why not find an activity on the weekneds? Or limit to one activity per week. I think your son will understand.

Parenting for single parents and working parents is about making sure your child understands they are loved and QUALITY not QUANTITY time.

What a wonderful example you will set for your son about working toward a goal!

Good luck... and let me know if the WBA can help you in any way. We will be running a mentorship program in the fall.

1 mom found this helpful

Congratulations on being accepted in to law school!!! I wish you all the best. It doesn't matter when you go back to school... it will be difficult and you will feel guilty about not being with your son more often. My advice is to just be open and talk to him about what you are doing while you are gone from him and why. Try to make the time you have with him meaningful. Make a promises that you can keep so that he can look forward to some one-on-one time with you. For example, "We will eat dinner together every thursday night. Saturday mornings are just for spending with you." Etc. Also, plan ahead so you can make all of his important events like his school award ceremony, or his game.
It will be hard, but you can still do what is important for the future and let him know you love him today.
Again, best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T.,

Congratulations on being excepted to law school. I was in a situation many years ago where I considered law school. I was a single mom working full time then I went to part time work/full time school when I decided to finish out my Bachelor's. I made some sacrifices, but it was worth it. I graduated with a Bachelor's in Legal Administration out of UDM and after that, I worked as a legal assistant. I considered pursuing a Juris Doctor, but once I found out from the professors at the school and the attorneys that I worked for what was involved in law school plus the work load that a new attorney would have, I opted out of pursuing my Juris Doctor. The schoolwork is time consuming and so is the homework, but well worth all the effort if you really want it. And, I was told that as a new attorney, I would have to probably work over 70 hours a week starting out in the profession. I'm not suggesting that you not consider this path--in the long run, it will pay off but it requires a huge commitment because it is a profession you are gearing toward, not just a job. The great thing about being an attorney is that you can always work for a firm or even work as a sole practioner, never leaving you without a way to support yourself, so it is a wonderful career choice that opens many doors to opportunities like government and politics. If I were you, if you haven't already, make an appointment to meet with the school counselor who runs the law program to discuss your situation. I think worse case scenario, that if you even go part time to law school, you'd be better going that route now than waiting until your little boy is grown up--slowly, you'd get there rather than put it off for so long and then who knows what can happen in the meantime and you may never get to go back to law school. I would ask the counselor about possibly moving to on campus housing where you could live with your son and have your son go to school while you're in school. Would it be possible for you to quit your full time job, live on state assistance, move in with family or move on campus with possible daycare for your son while you fulfill your dream? I know a few single parents who are going that route now just to finish school so that they can have a career. I received great advice from the counselor that I spoke too at the school when I worked to get my Bachelor's. I also left my full-time job, moved in with my folks, worked part-time, put my child in daycare and collected MIChild for health insurance. Once I explained my situation, the school counselor prepared a program especially for me and set me up with financial aid and state help. As a single parent, you are entitled to alot more financial/state aid than if you were not a single parent. They should also give you information at the financial aid office about scholarships and minority funds. Check into it. Doesn't hurt to ask. The school counselors, I'm certain, come across situations like yours and can offer advice.

Sorry if I rambled too much, but hope I helped some!:)

M.

1 mom found this helpful

Have you considered doing the middle of the road thing, just taking one class at a time? It really isn't any easier as a stay at home Mom. I started my classes when I was a single mother and I took one class at a time to minimize my time away from my son. I would highly recommend this way of doing it, it would make it affordable, and you would be a part of his life for the next 4 yrs. If you start full time in the evenings, it doesn't sound like you would be involved with him much and that would be awful for him and you, it might take longer but a lot can change in 4 yrs and maybe you could start full time next year for the year after. You don't need to give up one to have the other.

ask yourself...what would I want him to do if it were his life?
You are setting the example for him. Personally, I would want my child to take any amazing opportunity that came his way, and not put it off hoping that it will come around again. You can't bank on the future, you never know where it will take you... you know in your heart that you can do this, and what it will take.
Law school is huge...and you should be so proud of yourself!! He will be proud of you too...

Kudos!
Just between us, I went to the Academy of Court Reporting 3 years ago. I surprised myself and far excelled my expectations as a Legal Administrative Assistant. Deans list 3 times, etc. Wow!

But to your dilemma, is there any way you can do any of the classes online?

Obviously I cannot tell you what to do all I can do is share my experience with you. When I was 7 my mom and dad divorced. After the divorce my father was hardly, if at all, in the picture. My mother decided to go to back to school full-time and work full-time. Needless to say my brother, sister and I rarely saw our parents. That was 22 years ago and my sister and I still talk about how we wish our mother would have waited to go back to school - we needed her more at home. People say its not about the quantity its about the quality of time - its both. This is a very crucial time in his life. I hope this helps. Good Luck.

I'd say "go for it!". Honestly, it may never feel like it's the "right time", so now would seem like as good as any--and also, you'd be done with school before you little guy is in HS & he may have a lot of after school activities then also that you'd like to share with him---and probably want to be around & available more to keep an eye on his activities etc. I think now is a good time, esp. if you do have friends & family who can help out (I know it's imposing, but that's what f&f and there for!).

Also, have you inquired about scholarships thru the financial aid office- they should have a list of resources for you.

Best of luck!!

Do it now. Your 8 year old in the next 4 years will be doing major changes too but in the long run he will know you did the right thing.

First, Congratulations on Law School!

Second, I have been a single parent and attended college and I am currently married and working full time while still attending school. From my experience you have more time when you are a single parent. It's only you and your son and not a husband and wifely duties to attend to. (Don't get the wrong idea; I love my family and duties very much) My husband does help out and is supportive with kids and housework and even cooking, but that is still an added responsibility. I am trying to say I think you are at more of an advantage if you do it now especially if you plan on expanding your family later.

Like some of the other responses, if you wait there is all of that lost time to consider. However, if you go you need to create a time management plan that leaves room for the unexpected. I went from three classes in the beginning to one class currently and I take that class online since attending campus would be too difficult right now. True, it does take longer, but I still have plenty of time for spending with my kids and instructing.

Can you lighten your load? Take one or two classes, out of those take one online. I would not suggest quitting your current job due to the economic situation, but of course you would have to decide that. Homework is very time consuming for my one class and my other duties so evaluate your homework in all your classes. Would it be time consuming the majority of the little extra time you have left? So now not only are you gone to work, then school but when you come home you have tons of homework and study time.

Depending on what you decide, a little tip that I have is scheduling homework time with my son. We both sit and do our homework together, and he enjoys this and it leads to open conversation.

With that said, you sound like a very good mom. Unless you are confident in the morals of friends and family then think twice about who will be assisting you. Your son will be learning and molded based on their values and morals since he will be with them for the majority of the time you attend school. I had to think about this myself and that's why I lightened my load and decided to devote the majority of my time to my kids.

If you are a spiritual person, pray on it. Speak with a counselor and explain everything. Create what a schedule would look like if you added this much schooling. Create a schedule if you only took a couple of classes. Don't forget to add homework and study time. Definitely leave space for the unexpected (anything out of the ordinary, sick child, etc.)then and decide from their.

Best Wishes!

CONGRADULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!on getting into Law School. Go with your gut on the decision on timing of school. If it were me, I would go now. Your child will always need you, however, thinking they are more self sufficient when they are teens, LOL. Looking back at my own children, they needed me more as teens, they think they are adults, but act like they are 8yr. or younger. Send him to the baceball game with his uncle, and be their to teach him to drive a car later, after your out of school. Hope this helps, best of luck to you. Go For It. Bree

GO!!!!

I really wish I had gone to college and got some kind of career rather then working retail or as a nurses aide, you have a support group and I'll bet they are willing to help you out so that you can get your education. You will be setting a good example for your son by working hard on getting your education now.

GO!!!!

When my daughter's were younger, I kept promising myself that I would go back to school and get my degree. My oldest is about to start her final year of college and I still haven't gone back. Between work and life, I just haven't had the time. Now - there are still ton's of things I need to do and I am not so sure I could get into Law School.

I completely understand your dilema! I decided to go back to school 2 yrs ago. I was just accepted into my Radiology program, so now have 2 yrs to go. While my daughter is 4 now, I really struggled with it. Do I miss stuff now, or later.

This is just my opinion. If you can set it up with family and friends, do that. I wouldn't be able to juggle it all without my family. I know there are things that I am missing. The lesson I am showing her now, and that you'll be showing your son -- is priceless. Reguardless of how much you struggle -- you can do it. You are showing him that he is important and the future for you both is important. He'll be proud of you -- and so will you. What more can we do or want for our kids than to teach important things about life?
Good luck with your decision! I hope you go - mostly I hope you go with your gut.
Let us know how it goes!! Congrats by the way!! What an accomplishment!

C.

I can't tell you which is beter, now or later, but in addition to all of the other great advice, consider this: when your son is in high school, the last thing you want to do is keep him totally unsupervised at night time. That is when teenagers need their parents also. Even though they can feed themsevles and tend to themselves, many get into big time trouble without the supervision of a parent. There are challenges to parenting at all ages, and some sacrifices will need to be made, only you can be the judge about which ones to make. Keep in mind,those sacrifices will be temporary. And if you do choose to go to school now, if you find that it doesn't work, then you can reevaluate and take it from there.

Is 12-16 hours of school per week considered part time law school? If possible, maybe cut your hours back - even though it would take you longer to finish, it would still be better than putting this off until your 8 year old is in high school. Think of all the lost earning capacity during that time and the loss of greater opportunities for your family. Better yet, try to work with your employer to go to school during the day maybe once a week if possible and make up the hours on a flex schedule (maybe on the weekend when you can get a babysitter for a half day or something). Are there any Saturday classes? The financial aid office at your school should be able to advise you of scholarships and grants, considering you are a working mom, a minority and possibly low income as well as a single wage earner. Also go on US government websites - they should have information as well - especially with all this stimulus flying around! What you are doing is admirable and your son has a great role model in you. I went to law school with no kids or full time work and it was difficult, so you have your work cut out, but ultimately it will be worth it, so go for it and stay focused. If you need more advice about law school etc. feel free to email - although it sounds like you are surrounded by lawyers already who probably have given you good advice.

T.,

Only you can decide what's right for your family but I'd ask myself a few questions.

How will it make my children feel when their only parent is not available to them most of the time?

Who will be building into my kids in my place? (not just taking care of the basics)

Is this what I would have wanted from my mother when I was their age?

When I get to the end of my life, would I regret spending these few precious years with my children or putting off my education until they got theirs?

This is such a huge decision for you and one that affects so many things. And I know how hard it is to do everything on your own. Check into Michigan Works No Worker Left Behind for financial help for school. There's alot out there for us, we just have to find it! :o)

I just thought of something else...The age your son is now is such a sweet tender age. By the time you get out of law school and then start to climb the ladder (60 hour weeks) he will be becoming a teenager. Right now he really wants to be with you. When he's a teenager, not so much! ;o) When will he need you the most?

:o) G.
Single mom of 2 boys (7&5)

It sounds as though you will be missing a large portion of the next four years of your sons life and the time you had available to spend together, make sure you factor in your homework with the time you won't be able to spend with him.

4 years of having friends/family take care of him will get old not only for them but for him.

It just depends on what is more important to you.

Hello T. - congratulations on being accepted into law school . I wish I had some perfect advice for you. You sound like a wonderful mom and I completely understand that you want to make the best possible life for your son. You said that you don't want family to have to take him to activities every day but is there a chance that he could still keep one or two of his activities going? Could you find a high school student who might be able to help you out with this? Could you ask for several family members to chip in and take a day a week? Whatever your decision in the end, I know it will be a good one. If you decide to wait until your son is older you might never get to law school - I have waited too long to go back to school I feel. However, as a stay at home mom I do love being with my boys and feel very privileged to be with them - downside, of course, is that I'm not making any money for our family which is causing stress. You sound very bright and focussed. Good luck - Alison

First that is great you were accepted to law school!!! Now for your question I went back to school 3 years ago my kids were 15 and 8. Yes it is alot of work and some hard times but my 8 year old took to it better then his brother. Never put off what you can do today. Most importantly school. Yes you will miss some things and yes you will feel bad about it and sometimes think to your self you are a horrable parent but if you have a good support system it will work its self out. Not all of us are fortunate enough to stay at home and not all of us have significant others who can support what we do. I have worked all of my adult life and wish I would not have given up on going to school when I started before my oldest was born. I should have continued. This is your dream and your future for you and him. If he is as smart as you think he will adjust. Struggle now before the high school sports, cars and dating begin. Two or three years now and your life will be better later.
Keep up the good work. I am still working on school I finished two associates and am working on a bachlors now.
Your school should have information on finacial help along with looking on Michigan.gov and doing a search on financial aid for women.
Good luck to you. Keep up the good work.

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