Master Mom: 5 things that helped this wife, mom, and working woman prepare for grad school

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By Jenny Gregory

Early alarm, drop kids off at school, go to work, lunch, meetings, t-ball practice, dinner, bath time, story time, laundry, dishes, and then bedtime. Does this look like your daily routine? It’s almost impossible to imagine that one could add school to this load, right? But it can be done!

Jenny Gregory with family (Matt, Cannon, and Emma) after the Truett McConnell University graduation ceremony. KATHY BREWSTER PHOTOGRAPHY

I remember thinking, “Is this even possible?” However, after much prayer and support from my family, I submitted my application for the online master’s program at Truett McConnell University. While I’m excited to share I walked across the stage on May 11 receiving a Master of Business Administration (MBA), it was a learning experience — literally. Here are a few things I learned that may help you:

Full-time vs. part-time? 

I had a goal in mind. I knew the work would be tougher and the load would be heavier, but I set forth to earn my degree in one year. As you decide on course load, be prepared to spend at least 2 hours per week – per class hour on studying and assignments. I spent twelve hours each week studying and completing assignments. You will need to decide how many hours per week you can invest to determine your status of full-time or part-time.

Stay ahead of the game 

As an undergrad student (back in the day), there were times that I studied for a test the night before. All night. As a graduate student with a full plate, it’s impossible to write a 20-page paper or read five chapters the night before. I cannot stress enough: manage your time wisely! For my graduate assignments, I blocked off a time period each evening when my kids would be in bed: 8 o’clock until midnight. Give or take an hour or two on certain nights, this has been my schedule since day one. For some, this seems like a lot, for others, you may say, “I go to bed at 8 o’clock.” I totally get that, too, so consider carving out time in the mornings. Whatever the case may be, keeping a consistent study schedule and planning out project time will be critical.

Give some, take some 

With a husband, three-year-old, five-year-old, and three dogs, I knew that adding to my tasks of: managing a family, being involved with church, working a full-time job, and basic life, would be difficult to manage. In the age of online learning, it’s possible to work towards your master’s degree and still be involved at home. I may not be able to go to all of my son’s baseball practices, but I never miss a game. I may not be able to watch that Friday night movie with my family as often as I like, but I spend quality time with them during study breaks, which has actually been more valuable. We also made a routine of going out for lunch each Sunday after church to just enjoy each other’s company. I often switch around study times in order to make sure I NEVER miss important events.

Know that there is a finish line 

To be honest, even though it was difficult, this year has flown by. This graduation was one of my proudest moments. Watching my family in the stands cheer me on was icing on the cake. This has been an amazing experience, and I am grateful for my family, friends, and professors for helping me along the way.

Fun fact: My 5-year-old actually gave me the title for this blog. I remember one evening, he said, “Mommy, I’m going to call you Master Mommy when you finish school!” While I haven’t mastered the mom thing yet, I sure am thankful they have been so understanding throughout this process.

So…Are you dedicated? Are you willing? Are you disciplined? Can you make the sacrifice at this time? I hope my journey inspires you to analyze your situation and make a good decision about going to (or back to) college.

Whenever you take this journey, remember to keep God first, don’t sweat the small stuff, and plan something big for YOU when you’re finished. I am planning a wonderful and relaxing vacation with my family with lots of late-night movies, and lots of SLEEP!

Jenny Gregory is the digital marketing specialist for TMU…now alumni of TMU!

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