As a caregiver, your time is valuable, but it is important to stimulate your mind. Going back to college is one way to broaden your horizons and create more opportunities for yourself. The issue is finding the resources and time to get started and continue your college career. A balance is necessary to refrain from burnout from stress and work.
- Create a Plan
Whether you are a part-time caregiver for an independent senior or a full-time caregiver for your loved one, it is a good idea to take time to plan out your goals and schedule for schooling. Before you get started, create a plan that will break down your preparation step-by-step. Since you are familiar with your schedule and routine for caregiving, you should sit down and decide how much time you can give to school. Remember that you need to include class time and study time. Most schools recommend allowing two to three hours study time for each hour of class time.
- Form a Budget
You probably already have a budget for caregiving, which may include groceries, transportation and even medications, but it is a good idea to also create a budget for school. College is expensive and you will have added fees for books, supplies and possibly clothing for some classes. Depending on your number of class hours, you may be eligible for federal financial aid. Beyond applying for financial aid through your school, you may be able to find local scholarships from churches, caregiver support organizations or online. Talk to the school’s financial aid office regarding other aid resources. You can also make payments to most colleges directly or through a third-party service.
- Ask for Help
Assistance is always available if you ask for it. You should ask for help from friends and family to cover your caregiving duties when needed. You can also see if there is a local support organization for caregivers that can help with coverage. If you are too busy with school some weeks, then you may want to think about hiring a part-time caregiver, or a home health professional to take care of your loved one, so consider In-Home Care as an option. Other assistance, such as financial help from family may be available through work grants and loans. You will never know unless you ask.