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Keys to being a parent in college

Photo courtesy of Kristen Bowman.

Photo courtesy of Kristen Bowman.

Kristen Bowman, Contributor

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Over the course of my undergraduate experience, I learned many things about how to be successful in college. While there are many friends to make, events to attend and opportunities at our feet; there is also a great deal of anxiety, stress and even tears. We all hope for the best, but there is a lot of work that has to be put into college to make our dreams happen. Making dreams happen is not necessarily easy, especially for college students that are also parents.

Throughout my undergraduate experience, my son, Caden, has been my rock. While at times he is rough to deal with, it is an amazing feeling to know that all of my hard work is going to better both of our futures. In May, I graduated with my BS in Psychology. This major accomplishment is a staple in my growth as a person. Even though the odds may have been stacked against me at times, I was able to push forward and even move on to my next education, a Masters in Applied Psychology. While there are some tribulations that I will no longer deal with in my masters, there are many techniques that will hopefully carry me through the rest of my program.

The following are key components to my success as a parent in college. While I was not always the best at achieving them, these were the goals that I set for myself to have a better education. These tips can apply to all students, not just parents.

  1. Scheduling, organization, and prioritize
    • It is vital to plan a schedule that accommodates with all of the things you must achieve, such as school, work, spending time with friends and more. When I begin to think of my schedule I think of the times that Caden is being cared for by someone else. In other words, when Caden is in school and daycare, that is when I do the bulk of my work. During this time, I go to class, go to work, schedule my doctors appointments and more. Additionally, this is also when I make time for friends. About three times a week I plan for lunch with different friends and coworkers.
    • It is vital to plan a schedule that accommodates with all of the things you must achieve, such as school, work, spending time with friends and more. When I begin to think of my schedule I think of the times that Caden is being cared for by someone else. In other words, when Caden is in school and daycare, that is when I do the bulk of my work. During this time, I go to class, go to work, schedule my doctors appointments and more. Additionally, this is also when I make time for friends. About three times a week I plan for lunch with different friends and coworkers.
    • Next it is key to have organization. I like to organize my schedule so that my classes and homework time are on the same day. For example, my Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are my class days. And then Tuesdays and Thursdays are the days that I go to my job. This helps me so that in the morning I know what I need to focus on for that entire day.
    • When thinking about time it is also vital that you prioritize. In my undergraduate education, I did not prioritize very well. I wanted to do all of the extra curricular activities possible. However, this made me lack in several areas. Looking back, I realize that I should have picked what was the most important to me and put more energy into them, versus spreading myself too thin. In my graduate degree I want to be more selective. Thus, by selecting my activities more carefully, I will be able to spend my time more efficiently.
  2. Take the opportunity.
    • There are numerous opportunities that are offered to students. Pick an opportunity and take it. While in college many of us get so caught up in achieving our short term goals that we forget to do something big for ourselves. Now, don’t get my wrong, I do many little things for myself, such as a shopping trip to Dirt Cheap, but those are not the self rewards that I remember when I am feeling stressed or upset. Instead, I think of the time that I got a scholarship to study abroad in Germany. This was a wonderful experience that many people do not take advantage of. Because we are students, we are able to get a cheaper price while studying abroad, plus I applied for scholarships and then I worked to save money to go on the trip. While it was not easy to get to go, it was one of my best experiences. There are also many opportunities on campus. I started working as a research assistance and because of a lot of hard work, I have been able to travel more to go to research conferences.
    • Traveling has been my reward that refuels me to keep working hard. I try to take on many different opportunities, within reason. Taking opportunities has a domino effect that will bring you more and more chances to reward yourself and find what you love.
  3. Know your people and your resources
    • All educators were once a student, so they understand the struggles that we are currently facing when it comes to college. They are informed of may difference resources on campus. For example, my mentor for my research assistance-ship has found me additional funding. This was great because he has once again proved that he is my person and that he is full of resources.
    • Next, pay attention to the fliers on campus and your Tarleton Email because these are vital modes of learning about new things on campus. Go to the events that you see are happening. You never know if you will like it until you try it! Furthermore, there are many clubs and organizations that are understanding of the fact that you have a child. I was a Residential Leader for 3 years and there were many meetings, gatherings and events that my son was also in attendance.
    • In the Stephenville community there are lots of other resources, such as places that give discounts and free stuff. There are several food banks where students and parents can go for additional food and clothes. Being a broke college student is difficult, but the resources on campus and in the community really want to help student succeed.
  4. You can do it!
    • Believe me, I know that it is hard for students and for parents. But, it is possible. With enough determination and love, you can achieve your goals. I am thrilled that I have Caden through this experience because I know that he can see how hard I am working and this will teach him to have perseverance.

So, there you have it! Four keys to success that will hopefully inspire you to work hard for your dreams. Keep pushing forward and look back to see all the progress that you have already made.

 

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