If you are an adult learner considering enrolling in an online college degree program realize that much of your success is contingent on having the full support and understanding of your family. Traditional students are able to be self sufficient in many ways because they do not have a spouse and children to care for. You on the other hand probably have a full time job, kids, a spouse, and bills. Graduating from school is hard enough but is nearly impossible without the proper support system, which starts with your family.
You will want to sit down and have a family meeting. Meetings in the business world have an agenda with talking points so you would be wise to do the same to keep the conversation focused on where it needs to be.
1. Explain why you are returning to school.
You will want to avoid generalities such as “I believe in the importance of going to school.” You’ll want to be as specific as possible and tell your family what you are planning on studying, and the kind of job you can get. Let them know college graduates typically make thousands more in income and have better job security, but make sure not to over promise.
2. Let your family know an online degree makes sense for families.
Tell your family that online schooling is flexible. That the reason you chose to do an online degree program is because you value your time with the family and do not want to sacrifice all of it for the sake of school. This will make them feel important and much more likely that they will get behind what you are doing.
3. Discuss the financial impact on the family.
Explain to your family that sacrifices may have to be made for the time being but the money going towards education is an investment. This can be a great teachable moment for you to explain to your children the value of sacrificing now in order to get a greater reward in the future.
4. Tell them it’s a team effort.
Rally the troops and let them know you are going to need their help. If you show them that you can’t do it alone and you need their help the entire family will likely rally behind you like faithful soldiers to their general.
5. Give them an estimate on time.
People respond better to change when there is a timeline involved that shows them when the end will be. Show them your school calendar and explain how many weeks the classes are and how many semesters it will take for you to graduate.
6. Show them your goals.
It’s best to let your family celebrate with you when you reach your goals. Let them know that each semester you pass the family will have a pizza party or some other activity they enjoy.
During the conversation keep the tone open and light. There’s no need to be defensive as that will just cause them to resist. Make sure everyone has a chance to ask questions and to respond.