Are you a parent thinking of going back to school? 5 tips to handle the challenge

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Newcomer parents who want to pursue further education have to think long and hard before they push through with their plans. Deciding and actually going through a program are hard, but not impossible. The good news is there are numerous resources available in Manitoba to support you and help you attain your educational dream.

Here are five tips for you:

  1. List down the pros and cons of going back to school

    While you feel excited about furthering your education, understand that it also means the following:

    • You will be handling more responsibility than usual.
    • You will have to start juggling between family time and your new path.
    • You might need to seek alternative childcare for your children, if needed.
    • It means you will have to make alternatives choices or frequent changes as you continue schooling.

    You may have more (or less) considerations aside from those mentioned above. You may have work, a business, or perhaps your partner has a work schedule you would need to take into account. Having all these written on paper will help you have a more realistic perspective. It will also make it easier for you to make a comprehensive action plan.

  2. Do your research

    Know all that you can before choosing which program and institution to enroll in. It will be helpful to consider the following:

    • What profession you are going into and what qualifications are required?
    • Which institutions in Manitoba offers the certification you need?
    • What ways can you finance your schooling? Check what government supports are available. Check if the institution/program of your choice is designated by Manitoba Student Aid to receive financial assistance.

    For this step, you would need to gather information by doing an online search or by consulting your chosen institution. It would be safe to call ahead and ask for an appointment before visiting the school.

  3. Check for funding support

    Once you have registered for courses in your school, you will have to submit an application to Manitoba Student Aid for financial assistance. When you’re approved, you may receive both federal and provincial grants along with your loan. Government grants are free, you do not have to pay them back. This can help you offset your student loan and other costs.

    1. Check for departmental, general bursaries, and grants offered.
    2. Ask about other financial assistance offered by donors e.g., scholarships.
    3. Check for government of Manitoba grants, (if you are enrolled in a college program).

    Some helpful tools:

    If you are not sure about application rules and guidelines, ask for assistance. Educational institutions would have designated offices or staff who can guide you. Check their website for student services and call or ask for an appointment to consult them about your application.

  4. Prepare and plan

    After deciding on the program and institution, you can now plan and prepare. These are the things that are vital to your success and will help you as a newcomer parent in school (this includes a recap):

    1. Apply for admission to the school. Once approved, decide on the best time to start based on the term/section specified on your admission letter. You may be able to choose to enroll only in the summer, winter, or fall term, whichever works best for you.
    2. Apply for Manitoba Student Aid for financial assistance if needed.
    3. Have your childcare options sorted out before you start. This could include arranging with a trusted family member to care for your child while you are in school or looking for a nearby childcare centre. Use the Manitoba Child Care Search and apply for government daycare subsides to help pay part of the fees. Remember to register at licensed centres to qualify for the subsidy. For more information about finding a childcare centre and the childcare subsidy, read: 5 steps to finding child care services.
    4. Check supports. Learn about the various resources available in your institution in order to excel in school. There are student services for tutoring, editing, and any concern you might have when schooling. Using student resources will help you succeed with your school work tremendously. You can also reach out to your professors or student services staff if you have questions and concerns.

    Know that it is okay to feel overwhelmed while in school, this is why it is important to know that help is available. Don’t keep things to yourself! There are many resources and programs that can help you to succeed. Also know that there is no shame in seeking help from people around you. This includes your partner, extended family, friends, the community, and school services. If things get too tough, you also have the option of taking a break from school to get the rest that you need. Start again when you feel strong enough. It will take you longer to graduate if you do this, but you’ll have your mental and physical health intact.

    By Amen Loveth Otabor

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