Strategies for Juggling Graduate School with a Family

You may not fit the stereotype of a typical graduate student. Instead of being a young, single person who can at least theoretically devote all of their time to their field of study, you might be squeezing graduate school in between two a.m. feedings or driving a car full of teenagers around to various extracurricular activities. Sometimes, it can feel like you're spread much thinner than any of your classmates. On top of that, while on paper it might look like you have financial resources, in reality, you may be struggling there as well with far more financial responsibilities. The tips below can help you balance all of these obligations.

Financial Issues

Money is probably your most concrete issue, which also means that it may be easiest to address. You may want to look at ways to lower your overall expenses while you are in school. You and your spouse may both want to consider a student loan refinance with a private lender for your undergraduate loans if this will lower your monthly expenses. You should also look into whether you are eligible for any tax credits because you are a student. Your employer might contribute some to tuition assistance, or you may be eligible for a fellowship or assistantship. As was the case when you were an undergraduate, you can also use loans, scholarships and grants to pay for school.

Choose Your Program Carefully

Look for a program that is flexible enough to accommodate your needs. Some campuses may offer child care or subsidies. There may be other resources that cater to nontraditional students, or you might be able to find out how many nontraditional students attend the school. Some schools offer housing options for graduate students with families.

Have a Support System

Your family will need to be on board for this to be a success. If your kids are old enough, talk to them about what you're trying to do, and as a family, try to come up with some solutions about how chores and responsibilities will be redistributed. Be sure that you talk to them as well about the fact that one element of supporting you is giving you the time that you need to do schoolwork. It can be tough for them to adjust to these changes as well, so make sure everyone has some input. 

If you have extended family nearby, they might be able to pitch in and help with the kids. You should gauge how supportive your workplace will be. Some will encourage you and help work around your schedule, but others will not. You will need to be quite strict in practicing your time management skills during this period, so be sure that you have transparent communication in place with the important members of your support system. 


While you're being a super parent, racing from school to work to childcare, don't forget to look after yourself as well. Self-care can seem like something that should be low on your list of priorities, but if you don't take some space for yourself, you will eventually burn out and struggle to keep up with everything. Even if you burned the candle at both ends as an undergraduate, you probably cannot keep up that pace any longer.


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