Share this story

 | By Patricia Mish

Should I Go Back to School?

I lead a busy life as it is, but I love the idea of going back to school to set myself up for a future promotion or better job prospects. Is it realistic to take college classes when I’m already balancing full-time work and raising a family?

What a good question! The fact that you are taking time to ask yourself whether you can balance college with your current life responsibilities says a lot.

As Christians, we can ask ourselves a deeper question that bests even the best “pros and cons” list: What is God’s will for my life? Don’t be afraid to be specific in prayer: Lord, I want to go back to school, but I don’t want to miss all my kids’ track meets. And who’s going to do the grocery shopping? Help me figure this out! Then be patient and pay attention to the moments in your life where God might be answering.

That’s not to say we can ignore the practical questions! First, take a deep dive into which classes you want to take and why. Does the class interest you and will it help you meet your goals? Hoping the class may lead to a promotion? Talk to your employer or supervisor.

Now, to your question about whether you can balance it all.

With the plethora of online options, taking classes while working full time has never been more convenient – but not necessarily easier. Figure out how many hours the class or classes will take, including lectures, labs and homework.

Create a “time budget.”

One popular way to develop a financial budget is to figure out what’s coming in, then list each expense. You can do the same thing with time: Take your 14-16 waking hours and list your commitments in order of priority. Include every little detail.

Ask for help.

Does your time budget include tasks such as grocery shopping and/or cleaning the bathrooms? Driving your kids to and from practices and attending every single game or activity? Here’s where you may be able to “find” time: Delegate a few tasks and see if you can set up carpooling. Accept that you may not make it to every sporting event.

Be goal-oriented.

Take a close look at your objective. Do you need a college degree, or would a certificate be more appropriate? You may long to attend a favorite four-year institution, but don’t underestimate the value of community colleges and certificate programs.

Bring it back to prayer.

Pray through each step, asking for the Holy Spirit to guide you. If you sense the time is right to return to school, it should fill you with more excitement than anxiety. That’s a sign. Or does the thought of that additional responsibility keep you up at night? That’s a sign, too.

Whatever you decide, know that you aren’t in it alone! Lean on God, your family and friends as you either move into a new chapter or stay the course for now. Whatever you decide, embrace it!

As St. Matthew reminds us, “Seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” (6:33-34)

Patricia Mish is the managing editor of FAITH Grand Rapids.

¡Lee este artículo en español! (Spanish Language Version)