For many moms, going back to school tops their bucket list, but having young children at home may make obtaining a degree or certification seem impossible. Tarrant County College (TCC) student Erin Kostreva is a Fort Worth mom who agreed to share her advice for others in this TCC-sponsored post.
Enrolling in Tarrant County College earlier this year was a huge emotional and financial decision. My oldest, Amelie, who is eight, started second grade in August, and my son, Rocky, who’s now four, was only three when I began thinking about going back to school. My husband, Kris, and I discussed our options. This would change the dynamics of family life; we had many things to consider, including:
- What would I study?
- Tuition costs.
- Daycare costs.
- Finding time for class and homework, and getting up to speed academically.
- Managing the house.
- Missing being with the kids.
Even with these concerns, I knew a change was essential. I have always been interested in medicine, but it was my mother-in-law, Bev, who led me to consider a career as a dental hygienist.
Bev began as a dental assistant in the 1970s and is now a partner in a private practice. I
admire all she has accomplished. An online search helped me discover that TCC has the only certified dental hygienist program in the area. Compared to what we paid for my husband’s education at a four-year university, the tuition is much more affordable, about $885 per semester.
After learning more about the program and the tuition and fees, I was able to scratch the first two items off my list. Check and check.
Finding safe, affordable care for Rocky was the next big issue. Our extended family is spread out across the country; no one is available to help in a pinch. I needed a budget-friendly, dependable arrangement with high standards.
Full-time care for a four-year-old can exceed $1,000 a month, and not all daycare centers are curriculum-based. I was ecstatic when I found the TCC Children’s Center, an accredited teaching facility at the Northeast Campus in Hurst for the children of TCC employees and students. The price fits my budget, and the care is exceptional.
If you’re interested, inquire early. This location is in high demand, and you might land on a wait list. Thankfully, I was able to secure a spot for Rocky. He has made friends, loves his teachers, and is getting a great foundation for the love of learning. I know he will be ready for kindergarten. Check!
Whew! Now, on to academics! Students who complete the TCC dental hygiene program earn a two-year associate of applied science degree. The program accepts only 24 students a year.
I knew the curriculum would challenge me. I’m 38 and hadn’t done algebra in 25 years. I had to take some basic courses just to meet initial requirements.
I was relieved when I began working with my professors. They were there to answer my questions and have been understanding of my every circumstance. I have participated in tutoring sessions and made friends who, like me, have families. Support from professors and classmates has made the transition smoother than I imagined. If I can do it, you can, too.
One of the hardest parts of going back to school for someone who is accustomed to spending time with her children is that I’m not with them as much as I’d like to be. I’m on campus from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day. They will only be little once, and there’s no replacement for afternoons at the park or story time at the library. However, I know the best way to show them the value of an education is for me get this degree.
TCC offers many classes online, and I was able to take some prerequisites there after I put Amelie and Rocky to bed. I frequently wake up before dawn so I can study and be prepared for class and still have time to pack lunches.
The children may not understand all that I’m doing now, but they can see me working hard and will have a better idea of the effort it takes when their time comes. We all have good reasons to delay returning to school, but there’s one crucial reason to start today — your kids. And what is more important than their future?
Call 817-515-TCCD (8223) today to get more information about applying and registering for TCC’s spring 2016 semester.