Early this year, I made the decision to go back to college after 6 years of being a full time mum. The decision to go back was easy, but the planning and preparation to get there was much harder. There was so much to think about and plan for, I hardly had time to focus on anything else; there were a lot of “what ifs” and “maybe I shouldn’t be doing this” moments but in the end I got there and I am now looking forward to starting the beginning of my new life in September…

Here are some (hopefully useful) tips on how I managed to gain control of everything and make plans that worked for me….

1. Think about what you will do at college.

This might sound simple, but it is very important to think about what course you are going to study at college. Although it would be great to do every course they offer, you not only have to think about how you will fit it all into one week but how you will fit it around your family and children plus any jobs you have. Depending on what qualifications you already have, you should chose just one or two courses that offer flexible learning options. As I have been out of education for quite some time, I decided on the access course, something I know is well within my reach of achieving and I could take the course either 4 days a week for a year or 2 days a week over two years. By opting for a course with these kind of learning options, it will give you much more flexibility with your home life so that college and course work doesn’t completely take over.

2. Child care and arrangements.

My youngest child starts full time school this September, so now is a perfect time for me to get back to college as most of my child care arrangements are already taken are of. But for those of you who still have very young children, thinking about child care is a very important part of preparing for college. You have to think about who will look after you child, how they will get picked up and dropped off and of course, if they will be safe and enjoy where they will be while your away. If you have a relative or friend who is generous with their time, this might be the best option to go for. Someone who both you and your children know, will make you both feel more comfortable. However, if you do not have a close friend or relative who is available, It is best to start researching and visiting some child care nurseries as soon as you make the decision to go to college. Children over the age of 3 are entitled to 15 hours per week at nursery free of charge. Check with your local council of available nurseries in your area. Be warned though, that places for these nurseries fill up quickly and you usually have to register your child months in advance if the nursery is over subscribed. Also, if you have older children already in a play group or nursery, most offer a discount for siblings; And do not forget to check to see if the college you are attending has an on site nursery for your child to attend, again spaces here will fill up quickly so get your place booked as early as you can. If you are worried about the costs of child care, check out the direct gov website to see if you are entitled to tax credits and help with child care costs. The costs are usually covered in the form of a voucher which you can use at almost all nurseries and play groups so it is well worth checking out.

Don’t forget you will also need to make timing arrangements, What time will you start college, how will you get there and how will you get your child to their nursery and how will they be picked up? Some nurseries may offer a pick up and drop off service but this will be for an extra charge so it would be best for you to make your own arrangements.

3. Your home and work life


Planning college to fit in with your home and work life can be one of the most challenging things to do. You may need to cut back on a few things and maybe even call in some extra help if you are extremely busy. But nothing works better than a good plan. A couple of weeks before you start college, Sit down with a nice glass of wine and make yourself a simple schedule. If you have college only two days a week you still have five days to get everything else done, if your at college for longer though, you most defiantly have to plan ahead. Set out days for certain tasks such as the grocery shopping, laundry and gardening and plan other days for general house hold chores such as vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom and of course, the dreaded oven lean! Leave your self at least one day a week free to spend time on yourself and with your children and maybe one day dedicated to studying. By planning out your days and sticking to a schedule you are less likely to get stressed out and more likely to stick to college life with out feeling like your falling apart.

Hope you all have a fab time at college and I hope everyone achieves what they want! Good luck to all and thanks for reading.