“A diary of a college student” is a series where we profile a variety of students to get a glimpse of their day-to-day. Learn from their stories of balancing family, work, and school.
Tell us about yourself
Hello, my name is Crystal Woods. I am thirty-two. I have an Associates of Arts degree from Hazard Community College. I live with my mother, who is seventy-four and together we are raising my two great nieces. They are seven and eight years old, they are the children of my nephew and have lived with his sister for an extended period of time. In October 2013, the responsibility came to much for her and we took the girls into our home. We have certainly had some adjustments to make. I love the girls and enjoy them being a part of our home life, but adjusting to homework, school events, clothes, friends, rules and boundaries has been difficult at times. I honestly could not do it without my mother and I have the greatest respect for single parents.
I am a full-time online student at Midway College located in Midway, Kentucky. I am studying elementary education and middle grades education with an emphasis on Social Studies. I love kids and I am very excited about becoming a teacher! I have always seen myself as an elementary teacher, however recently I have also become interested in the middles ages classroom as well. Social Studies is an area that I find very interesting and where technology can bring new life to the subject.
What is the hardest part of balancing family life and school life?
The hardest part of balancing family life and school life is finding time for everything. The girls have homework, spelling test, projects along with meals, bath time and bed time. Plus everything that I also have to complete for my classes, portfolio and my own tests and projects. The girls have an early bedtime so as soon they are tucked in and the last story read, I am on the laptop completing as much as I can before my own bed time comes around. I think keeping organized and on top of deadlines is the key for myself to complete my own assignments. The girls’ teachers are very organized and send letters each week with what they are working on and what needs to be finished at home.
The key to balancing family life and school life is establishing a routine; the girls come home, have a snack, then homework, studying for spelling tests and reading for twenty minutes. Then they can watch television, play, play outside or other interests until bath time. They are not allowed to have the TV on until all their homework is finished which includes their 20 minutes of reading. At first, we were allowing them to read later in the evening, but this did not work for us. The girls were tired, they whined through the book or read in annoying voices and tried their best to get out of reading all together.
Establishing a routine for myself has also been very helpful, as an online student I receive my assignments a week at a time. The first day I write down everything and when it is due, I complete the assignments that are due first—discussion boards, quizzes or other assignment first. I have one day alone and I use this to work on bigger projects, take tests or other assignments.
What have you learned from raising a family while in school?
Although, I have only had my nieces as short time, I think I have learned a lot about raising a family while in school. It is incredibly difficult, but also very rewarding. I want my nieces to go to college and have meaningful careers. I want them to have positive role models in their lives and see what hard work will do. One of the most important lessons I have learned from having the girls would be choosing my prioritizes. I had to decide that I was going to continue with school and had to establish a routine for my own school work and as well as the girls.
Another lesson I have learned is to give myself a break! I have to make sure I am not overwhelming myself with homework and what the girls are doing. I have to give myself time to relax and also enjoy playing with girls or doing arts and crafts. I also have to remember my main goals and objectives.