April 7, 2022
College in the Pick-Up Line: Going to College as a Parent
Being a parent is hard.
Not only are you in charge of keeping your kid alive, but you also have to teach them how to clean up after themselves, say “thank you” after a meal, and not hit other children. Between the ever-existing stickiness, the actual trash can that is your car, and the seemingly never-ending diaper changes, imagine deciding to take on another role: the role of a full-time student.
Can you find doable online degrees for moms? Is going to college as a parent possible? With Grace College Online, the answer is yes! Grace’s flexible online programs allow for life’s craziest interruptions. No one understands that better than Kyrsta Lenon.
A Full House
Growing up in Winona Lake, Indiana, Lenon had a lifelong dream of attending Grace College but was not sure where it fit into her life. After graduating high school, she attended a couple of state schools. She later enrolled at Grace to finish her degree and got married shortly after. Her course completely changed when she got pregnant sooner than expected (she says it was the best surprise ever!) and made the decision to drop out of college. Now years later, she has a very full house of four boys turning ages 10, 8, 6, and 4, and she recently gave birth to a baby girl!
As if Lenon’s life was not busy enough, she decided to realize her dream and go back to school full-time to get a degree! Lenon enrolled as a student with Grace College Online in 2018. Three years of hard work and determination later, she earned an associate degree in liberal arts and then a bachelor’s degree in human services in December of 2021.
Some may call her crazy going to college as a parent in the midst of her busy life, and Lenon wouldn’t necessarily disagree. In May of 2018, Lenon had her fourth baby and was extremely nervous about starting classes in a few short months.
“I was not sure if I would actually have time to focus on my schoolwork,” said Lenon. “I hated the idea of failing, but what really helped me was to shift my focus. I tried to focus on my short-term goals while still having my long-term goals in the back of my mind. For example, in the short term, I would focus on my current classes knowing that they would go toward my long-term goal of obtaining my degree. Having that kind of mindset helped calm my nerves.”
In addition to the mindset shift, Lenon knew she had the support of staff and faculty who were very helpful throughout her years in classes.
“I felt so supported in the midst of personal issues,” shared Lenon. “There was one time that my husband needed an emergency appendectomy. I reached out to my professors, and they were so gracious and understanding.”
Professors care deeply about students thriving personally as well as academically. Dr. Jenny Preffer, associate professor of online graduate counseling, knows just how important it is to care for the whole student.
“We know which of our students are going to college as a parent because we have gotten to know them,” Preffer says. “We pray together, we check in together, and we care for each other. Grace’s faith and support is such a big part of what sets us apart.”
Naturally, taking on the role of mom and student came with its challenges.
“I am more of a Type-A personality, (or “tightly strung,” as my father says!) so I often had to get out of my own way when it came to any challenges,“ Lenon laughs. “The first week of every class was usually overwhelming for me because I was trying to take it all in all at once, which really wasn’t necessary other than looking over the syllabus and making note of important deadlines. It helped a lot to have my husband remind me to slow down and take things one step at a time!”
And Lenon is not alone in this. According to Preffer, in her role as advisor, she tries to work with students who are moms to help them find the right pace for them.
“For some single parents, homeschool parents, etc., we make the decision together to slow the course schedule down and do one class at a time,” said Preffer. “We ask the question,: ‘How can we set up the curriculum to work for you?’ And this should be an ongoing question throughout your entire experience.”
Lenon felt it was helpful to set aside “study time” just to focus on her classes. But when it comes to going to college as a parent, Lenon learned that sometimes, she just had to make do with the time she could find.
“I can remember doing schoolwork while waiting in my child’s preschool pickup line,” she reminisced. “Online degrees for moms can be tough in the pickup line, but I knew that if I worked then, I could take time away to be with him when he got home.”
The idea of going to college as a parent, especially if you’re a little older, can be intimidating. But Lenon would wholeheartedly say it is worth it!
“If I could give any advice, it would be this: use your support system around you! Even if your plans do not go the way you thought they would, which is basically the story of my whole life (Thank the Lord that He is in control!), going back to college is a great way to grow intellectually and spiritually, especially at Grace College. It is a very stretching experience in an awesome way!”
Interested in going back to school? Looking for good online degrees for moms? Let us walk you through it with Grace College Online!