Is an Online Education Right for Stay-at-Home Moms?

Being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) isn’t all sunshine and picnics at the park. Sure, staying home with the kids can be sweet and rewarding. It seems awkward or ungrateful to complain, but at the same time, the chores and physical and emotional demands never seem to end. And while some families are blessed to be able to live comfortably on a single income, many others are pushed into this choice by high day care costs or low-paying job options. It’s smart to have a plan in case you need — or want — to go back to work and earn decent money.

Heading off to a college campus may not be possible with all of your responsibilities at home, but an online degree program is flexible enough to work with your life. There are so many practical reasons to get a degree:

  • contribute to household bills and savings accounts.
  • provide career options after the kids are school-age.
  • update your job skills after years at home.
  • reduce your sense of financial dependence on your partner.
  • start your new life as a single mother after divorce or widowhood.

Continuing your education doesn’t have to be only about getting a job. It also provides a window to a bigger world. Studies show SAHMs have an increased risk of depression, which can carry over into interactions with family members. You need something that’s your own; you need adult contact. Online classes are a way to stretch your mind and do something for yourself without taking too much from your family. A confident, empowered mother is better able to take care of her family and contribute to her community.

If you’re not sure what to major in, think about the skills you use in managing your household and tending your family. Many of these skills directly relate to in-demand career fields, including nursing, education, business administration and accounting. Jobs in these fields are generally available in every part of the country.

Nursing jobs, in particular, are expected to increase at faster-than-average rates of 20 to 26 percent by 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can get into the health care field with a certificate or an associate degree. Preschool teaching jobs are also projected to grow at a fast rate of 25 percent, the BLS says, though the growth rate for kindergarten and elementary school teachers is just above average at 17 percent more jobs expected by 2020. The outlook for accounting and bookkeeping clerks is average, with 14 percent more jobs expected by 2020, but the median pay is above $16 per hour, making the field a good option for those who are trying to support a family. (Median pay means half the workers earn more and half earn less.) You may have some difficulty getting into bookkeeping without a certificate or an associate degree to prove your business sense.

Your dream of a college education and rewarding career is within your reach. Online colleges make higher education accessible for SAHMs, single mothers and others with limited time. The whole world is as close as your computer. Take charge of your future on your own terms and on your own schedule.