When Mom is the Student


When Mom is the Student

I started college the fall after graduation just like you’re “supposed” to. I moved out of my home and into a TINY dorm room with a complete stranger on the campus of a Christian college. I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I was expected to get a degree, so I did a cannonball into the murky water of college life.

I hated it.

I had a terrible work ethic, though I always scraped by with decent grades thanks to late nights making up mnemonics to remember key points. I am not sure I retained much information from my freshman year because I had my eyes on a good lookin’ boy at home who wanted to marry me and my brain was pretty focused on the logistics of that.

The next fall I moved back home to attend a state school that I had previously thought I was too cool to associate myself with (I know, rude). I had my wedding spring semester and by that fall I was very pregnant when school was starting again, so I took some time off. I always intended to finish what I started, so when my first son was six-months-old I attempted to go back, but after I found myself pumping breast milk in my car and sobbing because I missed my baby, I decided to delay even longer. It wasn’t worth it to me at that point and I happily went home to snuggle my baby. I don’t regret that decision at all. 

I ask myself often if the decisions I make are based on what I really want or if I am just trying to meet other people’s expectations.

Up until that point I hadn’t been thriving in my pursuit of an education because it wasn’t my dream I was chasing, but rather the dream that my family had for me. I was reminded pretty regularly that my choice to start a family young and “drop out” of college was disappointing. I never understood why I had to be considered a dropout when I had intentions of finishing eventually, on my own terms. I wasn’t giving up; just delaying to follow what made me happy.

I gave birth to four beautiful humans before I decided it was my time to invest in an education.

I was terrified thinking that at nearly 30 I would be the granny of any class I attended. I even felt like my peers would think I must have done something wrong for showing up late to the game. When I walked into class my first day back, I was pleasantly surprised. There were people of all ages and walks of life, I was definitely not the granny and nobody seemed to care that I’m a nontraditional student. If you want to take classes, but fear or intimidation is holding you back, I hope you will take my word and show up anyway because the only person judging you is yourself!

I definitely feel like there are advantages to completing school before you have a family. Nobody is drawing on your note cards. There are no tiny fingers desperately poking every key on your keyboard while you are trying to write a paper. You don’t have to find a babysitter to go to a study group. You don’t have a paper due in three hours and a sick baby who need your attention at the same time. But I really believe there are some important advantages to being an older student too. I appreciate my education so much more and have a love of learning now, rather than just cramming information to make a good grade. My work ethic is better because I know my children are depending on me and if I am going to spend time away from them, I really want to make that time count. The most important advantage in my opinion is that my children see my journey. I hope they remember watching me do homework with a nursing baby on my chest. I hope they remember sitting in my lap while I take an online quiz. I want them to watch me and know they can do anything they want to do if they work hard.

There is a lot of pressure to know what you want to “be” when you grow up, but I want to raise my children to know that happy is the best thing you can “be.” The road to happiness and fulfillment isn’t the same for everyone; some people take a scenic route and some take the freeway. I see the potential rising in each of my kids and I hope they will use their talents and abilities to make a difference in the world, but I don’t believe that there is only one road that will lead them to that. 

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I am having a really great time figuring it out.


  1. I was a chemistry grad student for 4 years. My absolute favortie students were the returning students. Without compare, the worked thr hardest, knew what they needed help with when they asked, and they were great appreciative human beings. The other students tended to like beimg paired with them because the labs usually turned out well.

    Don’t worry about what others think, you may be the mosr respected there.

    Also, if you worry about being behind (no math in 12 years), there are so many online tutors available in a variety of price ranges.

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