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An APU Student-Parent Offers Advice

While kids return to the classroom, moms also can jump-start their own learning, online

Charles Town, W.Va., August 30, 2010 – As children across the country go back to school, American Public University (APU) student –parent Jennifer Deater wants to remind her fellow moms not to neglect their own educational goals. Women tend to focus on the needs of every family member, but often put themselves last—even when it comes to continuing education.  

Deater notes that 97 percent of the parents surveyed by Public Agenda and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said they felt it was more important that their own children attend college before themselves. The accessibility and affordability of today’s online degree programs can help overcome this reluctance, according to a number of the mom panelists participating in a recent live chat session on the topic hosted by APU (

“American Public University knows that parents like me, especially moms, often put their studies on the back burner to take care of their families first,” said Deater, who is enrolled in the school’s online undergraduate hospitality management program. “Women are working full-time, organizing family commitments and taking care of their children, so they might feel overwhelmed by adding education to the mix. But there are strategies that busy moms like us can use to further their goals for higher learning.”

Deater, whose husband and daughter have also studied with APU, offers the following 10 tips to help moms be successful in earning their college degrees:

Tips for Moms Going Back to School

  • Schedule study appointments for yourself. Map out your study sessions according to what fits into your schedule each week. Whether it’s after the kids’ bedtime or during your daughter’s ballet lesson, keeping to a regular study schedule will help you to remember assignments and stay on top of your coursework.
  • Repeat, and Retain. When you’re studying, repeat all the necessary facts out loud to yourself to help you understand and retain everything you’re learning. You have a million things on your mind and may feel pressed for brain power after taking care of the bills, kids, spouse, pets, house, and more.
  • Create a distraction-free zone for studying, with enough privacy and comfort to set up your computer and spread out coursework. The space where you hit the books should be for mom only!
  • Log into your courses every single day. Take a few minutes aside from your regular web browsing to read feedback from professors and fellow students and stay ahead of the game.
  • Learn how best to work with your professors. Figure out the most convenient time of day to reach out and preferred contact method to keep lines of communication open.
  • Find a study buddy. Being a grown-up doesn’t mean that you have to study alone. Ask a friend, spouse or online classmate to meet in person or virtually to help you go over concepts and coursework. 
  • Choose your classes wisely. Learning is fun but make the most of your time by enrolling for courses that fulfill the requirements of your degree program, rather than taking unrelated classes for fun.
  • Stop multitasking! While it may seem like you are getting more work done at once, switching from task-to-task can limit your learning. Try to shut down e-mail and social networking sites to help focus your attention.
  • Take a break, for your mind and body. Facing a mental roadblock?  Be sure to take  periodic breaks to reorganize and refresh before returning to your assignment.
  • Celebrate your success! Going back to school is a lot of hard work for a busy mom – don’t forget to reward yourself for achievements along the way. Consider a manicure for completing a tough paper or a date night out for a hard-earned grade.