By Brittany Collins, Indiana Commission for Higher Education
According to the Lumina Foundation Stronger Nation data, more than 534,900 adults in Indiana have some college credit but no degree or postsecondary certification. In Indiana, obtaining a postsecondary credential has a significant positive impact for Hoosiers. From greater cumulative wages after completing a certificate or degree program to lower rates of unemployment, going back to school is worth the investment.
However, this can still be a daunting task for working adults who may even also have families to provide and care for. This October, we honor National Work and Family Month by providing some tips on how to juggle work, family and being a student.
1. Explore work and learn opportunities.
Now more than ever, employers are embracing a culture of training and development to continuously upskill employees within their organizations. Talk with your human resources department or representative to see what types of educational benefits are available to you. This could include tuition reimbursement, flexible scheduling, and potentially training/courses offered on-site for needed skills within your organization that may also count for college credit. For example, several employers across the state have partnered with Ivy Tech Community College through the Achieve Your Degree program, which allows current employees in participating organizations to receive degrees and credentials with minimal upfront costs.
2. Leverage campus resources.
Campuses throughout the state are committed to helping you succeed and complete your program by offering staff and resources, which are commonly housed under their Student Affairs department. There are academic advisors who can make sure you’re staying track with your certificate/degree program. Student advocates or success coaches are available if you run into challenges academically or personally that get in the way of you achieving your goal. There might even be spaces set up specifically for adult learners to receive support or provide a nice quiet place to study between work and classes with adapted hours. The biggest recommendation is to reach out to these resources early and as needed. If you’re in Central Indiana, Ivy Tech is offering an event on November the 9th to highlight these resources. You can view the flyer here. Planning to attend? RSVP here: ivytech.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_dhQf4nsEqa0pN2t.
3. Identify your supporters and champions.
Who is in you corner when it comes to completing your education? This might sound simple, but this is a necessary question to ask as you embark on this journey. Do you have a friend who reminds you to do your weekly discussion post, a mentor who can help you apply the knowledge you’re gaining to your career path, or even another parent who can take your student home from soccer while you attend class? Ask individuals to be on your team – you’d be surprised who’s willing to support you.
“I think it is essential to have a group of people around you to keep you motivated and on track,” said Angelia Moore, a wife and working mother who graduated from WGU Indiana in 2017 and is currently completing her MBA, “Life is an easy distraction. Without the support of my friends, family and colleagues, I would not have made the sacrifices to complete the work.”
As we end National Work and Family Week, consider how furthering your education may be a possibility for you in 2020!