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Parents Going Back To School

November 14, 2008, 10:20 PM by Cherlene Richards

Parents Going Back To School
The number of older students going back to school continues to grow, as more and more parents are trying to change their careers. More colleges, and universities are offering evening classes, accelerated courses, and online degrees nationwide. But, even with more opportunities popping up for parents to go *back to school, it's hard to juggle it all . . work, family, and school. 

As usual, laughter is heard loud, clear, and often at the Hanson home in Sioux Falls. 

4 year old Skylee, and 11 year old Elexa are challenging mom, April, to a neck and neck round of Candyland. 

"Just trying to interact as much as we can, playing games together, and spending quality time together,” April Hanson said. 

Being a single mom, April says she's still trying to figure it all out. 

"Boy, I mean I make mistakes all the time, it's, the hardest part, for one, being able to provide for them, how they need to be provided for these days,” Hanson said. 

These days April is trying something new, because her old routine just wasn't good enough for her family. 

"I was working 12 years at the same company right out of high school, and once I got through those 12 hard years, I realized it's not what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Hanson said. 

April first worked for a manufacturing company, and then tried working in customer service. But, she knew that wasn't the route for her. 

Hanson said she needed a lifestyle change, and that lead her here, to Kilian Community College.  Hanson is trying to earn a degree in Social Work. She wants to give back to the community, and be a role model for her children. . . . But, change isn't easy. 

"I was very nervous, when I first came back, 15 years later, I chose to come back,” Hanson said. 

At least in this class, Hanson isn't the only student with a family to look after, and a job to keep money coming in. She chose Kilian because of the smaller class sizes and flexibility. Algebra instructor Rose Toering says this is a great environment for parents to learn. 

"I think it helps here, because many of the teachers understand the situation, many of our mothers are single mothers, so they have to raise a family, and go to school, and hold a job,” Toering said. 

And Toering knows all to well, how hard coming back to school really is. 

"I was one of those students too, I didn't start back till I was 38, and it took my 8 years, I was a slow learner,” Toering said. 

But, Toering says she makes it work, because not only are many students nervous about being back in the classroom . . but math is one of the scariest subjects for those who've been out of school. That's why Hanson is front and center in here. 

"All my teachers say I'm a perfectionist, I like to know what I'm doing, how I'm doing it, and I'm striving for the best,” Hanson said. 

This is Hanson's 4th semester as a part time student.  She puts about 45 hours a week into her schooling, counting time in the classroom and studying at home. She also logs in part time hours in Kilian Community College's work-study program.  But, Hanson says it ultimately wouldn't be possible without support from her daughters. 

"She's proud of me, pats me on the back, she says, it will be ok mom,” Hanson said. 

Hanson says when they're at home, she and her eldest, Elexa bond over homework.. 

"I like her going to school, because we can do homework together and stuff,” Elexa Hanson said. 

She says it was a hard transition in the beginning, but her girls understand that their mom is doing this for the better. 

"There's a lot of patience with the girls, cuz they know that mom has to be gone, at school studying, maybe on a Saturday, during the weeknights,” April Hanson said. 

Despite the tight schedule, Hanson says it's all worth it. 

"I feel very successful, I feel very, like I achieved, one of my worst fears was going back to school, after 15 years and now that I've done it for almost a year, it makes me feel awesome,” Hanson said. 

April Hanson hopes to graduate in early 2010. 

Back To College

Kilian Community College

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