Supermom Goes to School

educationWe're deep into the school year, pencils are worn down and new school shoes are long scuffed. A typical day in a family with kids likely involves homework. But whose homework?

More mothers are returning to school, either to continue their education where they left off or start from scratch. Rebecca Barton could be a role model to all moms -- if she can do it, anyone can.


Barton, 35, is a nurse and mom. But a multiple sclerosis diagnosis threatened to derail her career. She chose to reinvent herself as a teacher of nurses, earning her master's degree. Now, she is pursuing her doctorate in education online through Walden University. On full scholarship. And she works full time at the University of Cincinnati, teaches Sunday school at her church, and shuttles her 8-year-old daughter between cheerleading practice and football games.

"My family is very supportive," she says. "They're very proud of what I'm accomplishing. They've made a lot of sacrifices."

A different kind of learning

In her endless pursuit to balance time, Barton has not pulled any all-nighters, often a hallmark of higher education. She gets her daughter's homework going and then after bedtime, Barton buckles down to do her own work. She is pursuing this degree online, but doesn't think she's missing anything with no classroom. And for the classes she has to teach, she puts all her PowerPoint presentations online.

"Many of the nursing programs are going online," she says. "We use technology such as simulations with high-definition mannequins. Many of the hospitals are all electronic."

Online learning is becoming much more accepted in academic circles. According to a 2009 study from the Department of Education: "Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction."

How to be a Supermom

Savitri Dixon-Saxon, Ph.D, is a consultant and counselor who specializes in family and parenting issues and now teaches at Walden University.

"The best way for mothers to handle all of the demands is to prioritize," Dixon-Saxon told AOL Jobs. "You have to recognize that you may not be able to do everything that you were able to do before. You have to modify your expectations of yourself and others' expectations of you."

But going back to school is not for everyone. And that's OK.

"She (a mom) shouldn't compare herself to anyone else," Dixon-Saxon says. "You don't want to neglect physical or mental health in the process. Or look for other opportunities to maintain interests and focus on dreams."

Pursuing a degree can appear selfish -- but Dixon-Saxon advises communicating with family to help them understand how they will benefit in the end. That benefit could be a better job, better hours, or more money.

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