Overcoming The Fear Of Going To College As A Mom

This is part of a sponsored collaboration with the College Board 
and DiMe Media; however, all opinions expressed are my own.

I was 15 when I graduated High School. I was poor and I didn’t actually go to the graduation party, but there was a celebration in my heart. I could move to the city, go to college, and finally change my life.

Going back to college as a mom | Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

Growing up in the poorest area in town, my parents taught me that education was the only way out. Moving to the “big city” to make it on my own seemed like a big step, but it wasn’t really scary. It was scarier to not go for what I wanted, to not pursue my dreams, to stay in that place that saw me grow but where I never felt like I belonged.

I knew it was going to be hard, and it was harder than I thought, but my desire to succeed, to be more, and to prove myself were stronger than my struggle. I wanted to learn, to expand my opportunities, and create a better future.

At times, it felt like an impossible feat. I often walked many kilometers to school, went days without food, and felt really alone, but I continued to work hard to excel in my classes, keep a 4.0 GPA, and focus on the idea of having a marketing degree.

Being bilingual helped me get a high-paying job, so I could feel a bit more stable, but it was still very difficult to pay for college. Knowing the English language also helped me qualify to the Work and Travel program (WAT), and I ended up spending a Summer in the US. Then life, as it often does, took an unexpected turn. Within two years, I was married and moving to California!

I always thought I’d go back to college and start working in no time, but culture shock, codependency, and two pregnancies – and two babies – in a 21-month period, didn’t help.

Can you juggle motherhood and college? Overcoming the fear of going back to college as a mom.

Back then, I didn’t know how easy it is to search for and compare colleges, find scholarships, and understand financial aid.

I kept telling myself I would do it later… someday…

But someday is not a day of the week, and soon, just like anything else that is not on the calendar, my goal was forgotten. Buried somewhere and decorated with justifying phrases like “good moms put their family first.”

And time will go by on you in the blink of an eye. My “babies” turned 14 and 13 in September, and we’re just a few years away from the college application process for them.

Over the years, I’ve been slowly finding the courage to pursue my passions and embark on personal and business endeavors that are exciting for me. But the biggest self-care move I’ve taken as a mom is to fully invest in my higher education.

I have been putting this goal off for so long, and I know I am not alone in my hesitation or my concerns, because as moms we often put everyone’s interests, choices, and desires before our own. As moms, we often put ourselves last and kill our dreams.

Do you dream of going back to college as a mom?

You may be thinking:

I don’t know if I can afford college tuition

I don’t know where I can find the time for college

I don’t know if I can balance all I do as a mom with college

I don’t know if I can succeed in college after so many years!

I don’t know if the people in my life will be on board with my going back to college

I know you may be thinking this because some of these worries were my own. But I’ve almost completed my first semester, and can assure you that you are highly capable, that you don’t have to put your family on hold or lose your head to pursue your dreams, and that you can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form as the first step to qualify for most financial aid opportunities – for both yourself and your soon- to-be college aged students.

This infographic was an eye-opener to me, because I could never imagine that most full-time college students receive financial aid in the form of grants, loans, and scholarships, and that almost $184 billion in financial aid is available now!

BigFuture Financial Aid Infographic

 

I’m sure you’ll find this information relieving. It’s a good idea to complete the FAFSA as early as possible so you can get a jump on financial aid applications (state or institutional aid) that may have early deadlines. Before you apply, you’ll need to create a FSA ID and collect the documents you need to get started (you’ll need your most recent tax returns!).

But paying for college may not be your only fear. Sometimes it’s necessary to dig deep and ask yourself:

What am I really afraid of?

As you discover what is holding you back, you can really get past it. As I examined myself, I was not willing to admit I had given up on myself.

But I’ve been slowly putting my fears aside, giving myself permission to once again tap into my dream, and regaining that fire I had as a young girl to pursue my higher education, even though now I am an adult. It’s been fun to explore this new intellectual adventure, and the challenges it brings. To prove myself that it’s possible and that I’m worth it.

A baby (or a few) changes everything, but with the right resources, the right support, and the right plan, it is really is possible to have a family and go back to college as a mom. You can definitely juggle school and family without feeling like you’re drowning.

I have a supportive husband and three encouraging daughters, but it was really a matter of claiming the support they were always willing to give me and being willing to put myself on my own priority list.  

It's never too late to pursue your dreams | Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

Whether you’ve been thinking about going back to college as a mom or have students to plan for, I encourage you to visit the College Board Big Future website for essential information and resources on financial aid, and to get your questions about financial aid answered.  

The CollegeGo mobile app is also a great resource that will guide students through the essential steps in the college application process with an interactive interface that uses game, video, search features, personalized deadline reminders, tips, and guidance along the – sometimes lonely – college journey.

The College Board has also created Spanish language resources for parents and families to help their children plan for college.

If you’re not planning to go back to college as a mom and your kids are not thinking about college either, I invite you to think of someone who could benefit from this information.  I believe in God’s timing and I’m embracing that this is my time, though through my experience, I have learned the value of taking advantage of wonderful opportunities and to do that, you must first know they are available.

What are your thoughts on going to college as a mom? I’d love to know your perspective, tips, and any college experiences you would like to share. Be sure to follow #PayingForCollege online. All my love to you!

[ela]

46 thoughts on “Overcoming The Fear Of Going To College As A Mom

  1. My mom went back to school to get her master’s degree when I was a kid and I was so proud of her! It also helped teach me and my brothers about the value of higher education

  2. I can trully tell you how it feels going back to college as a mom of three (2 out of college and one on her third yer of college). It is so challeging finding the time to study, working full time, now starting a new business, with no financial aid and no help at all! Hopefully I will graduate next year as a lawyer (hurray!) and it will be over soon. Patience is the number one key plus letting your family know that this sacrifice will then benefit us all, because as a mom and wife e we will be taking quality time from them also. It begins as your challenge but it ends as a family challenge where everyone has to help even doing house cleaning when mommy has to study!

  3. I had a friend that worked full time, went to school and had three kids and was a singer. I thought she was an amazing super woman! I don’t know how you do it all. I really enjoyed reading about your story!

  4. Life really does have a way of happening and time just keeps going by while you keep thinking “someday”. Good for you for going back to college. It won’t be easy, but you can do it!

  5. I went back to university when my eldest was only five years old. It took me 8 years to do, and I had two more babies along the way, but I graduated with a BSc (Hons) Life Sciences – and a First Class degree to boot! I spent many a day studying while breastfeeding with my books propped up on baby, lol! It can be done. 🙂

  6. I think it’s amazing you’re going back to College to do what you want to do later in life! I’m doing the same now, it’s really hard but It’s something that I’m working hard to accomplish.

  7. I went back to school after my 3rd child and graduated with an honors degree in Business. It was hard to juggle everything but it was all worth it! I proved to my kids with hard work they could achieve anything. Keep up the great work! 🙂

  8. One of the toughest jobs, but it’s amazing to see successful people like you. Being bilingual really helps a lot, communication is key for everything.

  9. I started my Associates as a mom. I attended the local community college and finished my Bachelors by taking all my classes online. I think it was a challenge both ways. I have encouraged my children to pursue college before kids because it will be so much easier.

  10. I love your dedication. Sometimes life brings surprises that we had no idea we can handle. I’m glad you have a supportive family behind your back who keeps cheering you on in following your dreams! This app sounds awesome!

  11. It’s so nice that there are plenty of options these days for moms who would like to go back to school to finish their studies! I think it’s also great that your family is supporting you all the way!

  12. I think continued learning and education should be fearful on the contrary sets a great example to our children that they can do the same because education is a continuos thing. No matter status or age.

  13. It’s never too late to continue your education! How great that you worked so hard at it when you were younger. I took a course recently at a community college and was really surprised by the number of people younger than me, and OLDER than me. It was great because I learned a lot from my fellow students!

  14. I commend you for going back to school as a mom! There can definitely be extra obstacles and pressures so that’s a great responsibility that you’re doing!

  15. I got my degree as an adult and I was usually the oldest person in the class. It never occurred to me not to go for it, but I hear lots of people say they’re too old whiich isn’t true. If you’re breathing, you’re not too old.

  16. Congratulations on going back! You can definitely do this and I know many of people who have. My own mother did it. It’s never too late for an education

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