Working Mothers Enjoy Second Chance in Returning to School

Working Mothers Enjoy Second Chance in
Returning to School

Summary: Examine steps to assist working mothers who want to return to school.

Karen continues to work at two full-time jobs to care for her three children. As a single mother, she found little help from her family. Therefore, she acted as an independent woman, needing no one's assistance. She realized that if she wanted to improve the quality of her family's lives, she would need additional education. Yet, the more she thought about taking the first steps, the more excuses she would make for not taking action. Several days later, she found out several of her co-workers were laid off. She knew she would be next. She needed to make her move: Now or never. 

Economic troubles make career planning more difficult. Since November 2009, America has lost 7.2 million jobs, with the unemployment rate topping 10%. Companies have shed many employees from their payroll. State agencies have had to lay off or furlough workers.

Millions of Americans are now waiting longer for food stamps, unemployment checks, and disability payments. Margaret Simms of the Urban Institute notes, "The length of the recession clearly has put a strain on the resources that states bring to bear." Therefore, our lives continue to unravel as things we depend on disintegrate before our eyes. This article shares practical advice for working women in their transition to higher education.

Today's women comprise more than half of the labor force. According to the U.S. Labor Bureau, mothers with children from 6 to 17 years of age are more likely to participate in the labor force than mothers with children under 6 years of age. Furthermore, unmarried mothers have higher participation rates than married mothers.  Working mothers need practical, proven methods if they are to make a successful transition to college life. Yet, many working women find various obstacles that prevent them from reaching their dreams. Noriko Iwanaga Chapman, a Japan native, is a working professional with over 16 years' experience in the automobile industry.

As a young, single-parent Baby Boomer, Chapman understands the demands of caring for elderly parents and raising a young family. Chapman was preparing to enter graduate school when she encountered a severe obstacle. Chapman notes, "In 2009, when being diagnosed with cancer, I was devastated by the life-threatening disease and unknown future. A year later I have survived and gained my health back for a second chance of my life." Overcoming the health challenge, she was able to start graduate school at Lincoln Memorial University while balancing work and family life.

Her first book, Second Chance, fully utilizes Chapman's "can do" attitude to assist others in her community. Likewise, the correct strategies can help encourage a working mother who is straddling the fence when considering returning to school. 

She provides the following advice for working mothers: (a) check out the latest college scholarship books at your library, such as Peterson's Scholarship, (b) remove or limit negative people from influencing your personal decisions related to your goals, (c) build a positive support group that can assist you with the demanding lifestyle of returning to school with children, (d) get a good grasp on how you will finance your education by talking with financial aid officers, applying for grants and scholarships, or borrowing the money from non-traditional sources such as local community groups in your area, and (e) join a group that shares your values and beliefs in order to build your network.

With such a weak job growth outlook, many working adults are looking to sharpen their skills in order to be more competitive. Women comprise a large share of the labor force and an increasing proportion of those who are returning to universities and colleges. Yet, the hectic lifestyles of most working mothers stop them from pursuing this career strategy. Going back to school can provide the mechanism to assist them in improving the quality of their lives. Therefore, taking the right steps in this transition is critical for working mothers so they can be successful.

© 2012 by Daryl D. Green

About Dr. Daryl Green:
Dr. Daryl Green provides motivation, guidance, and training for leaders at critical ages and stages of their development. He has over 20 years of management experience and has been noted and quoted by USA Today, Ebony Magazine, and Associated Press. For more information, you can go to  or