Whether you wanted the divorce or not, you’re now in a new season of life. Going back to school after getting divorced is a brilliant way to start over! It may not be easy or simple, but it is good.
In this article you’ll find a variety of practical, encouraging, and inspirational tips for returning to or starting college. They’ll help you transition from wife to student life, from married woman to an eager scholar who is ready to tackle the academic world.
Remember to take care of yourself through the divorce process – and keep taking care of yourself as you transition into student life. Equally important: don’t let yourself succumb to perfectionism or comparison. You are running your own race when you’re going back to school after getting a divorce. Go at your speed, pace, and timing.
I went back to school (UBC for a Master of Social Work) when I was in my early 40s, and in a month I’ll be going back to school again! I’ll be 49 years old soon; I’m starting a Master of Theological Studies at Regent College in Vancouver, BC, Canada. God willing.
No matter how old you are – or how long you’ve been out of school – student life is a big transition! Give yourself time to adjust. Find women like me, who are mature, smart, and encouraging :-)
Back to School Tips After a Divorce
When you’re going back to school after getting a divorce, you may be the only mature student with serious life experience. Don’t compare yourself to your fellow students. When I went back to university at 42 years old, I was older than a couple of my professors!
I don’t have children, which also set me apart. My fellow students were much younger and more culturally astute than I am, and were definitely in a different headspace. It wasn’t easy – especially the second year of my MSW.
1. Get the right tech tools for school
The Apple iPad Air was the best investment I made when I went back to school (I recently graduated from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver – I wrote about it a little in How to Get Into Grad School on She Blossoms. I actually bought a Galaxy tablet, but wish I would’ve invested in an Apple.
The reason I recommend an iPad is because it’s perfect for reading journal articles and textbooks on the bus and while you’re eating lunch. You can do research on it whenever you get a break, and carry a ton of information without hauling heavy books around. If you’re going back to school after getting a divorce, you need to make your life as easy and simple as possible! You deserve it.
2. Focus on your strengths
Since you’re probably older than most of your peers, you may be a tad wiser. Your life experience – including transitioning from getting married to thinking about divorce to actually getting divorced – has given you insights and wounds that your fellow students don’t have. This can be a good thing! You have a deeper
3. Give yourself time to rebuild your self-confidence
After getting a divorce, you may feel like you’ve lost yourself. You may not feel strong, valuable, lovable, smart, or competent. Your self-esteem may be at an all-time low, and you may be second-guessing your decision to go back to school after the divorce. I encourage you to connect with people, activities, and resources that help you feel strong, independent, and capable. Find other divorced women who know what it’s like to go through a marriage breakdown. Support them, and let them support you.
4. Take it one assignment at a time
I finished my Master of Social Work three months ago, and I still feel relief, joy, peace, and gratitude that I graduated! It was really hard to go back to school – and I’m not divorced. There were times I felt like I wanted to drop out of school, or at least drop down to part-time studies. College or university is hard, especially when you’re not used to the routine of classes, assignments, writing papers, and working in groups to create powerpoint presentations. One of my best tips for going back to school as a mature student after getting a divorce is to take it one step at a time. Don’t look at the whole year; just focus on the next assignment. Read How to Study When You Can’t Focus if you can’t concentrate on the next assignment due.
5. Get a seat cushion!
Recent research shows that students are developing chronic back pain from the hard, uncomfortable chairs in classrooms. When I was in university, I stood at the back of the room during class. I hated sitting for two or three hour stretches! One of my fellow students had his own seat cushion, which I thought was a brilliant idea.
The Forever Comfy Cushion is a bestseller because it helps students comfortably sit for extended periods of time. There’s a generous layer of soft, supporting liquid gel, which is encased within high density foam to conform to your bummy.
6. Watch your finances
One of the most difficult things about going back to school after getting divorced is money. Even if you’re financially stable, you’ll be surprised by the cost of tuition, books, lab supplies, additional school supplies (such as iPads and seat cushions) and unexpected expenses. Create a financial strategy or plan, and be open to change. Learn how to overcome your fear of not having enough money by building a strong, healthy personal relationship with Jesus.
I’m applying for a scholarship for my Master of Theological Studies program. I don’t think I’ll apply for student loans, as my writing and blogging should see me through…but I’m open to anything.
If you don’t have paid work and think you could fit it into your schedule, read 10 Highest Paying Jobs for College Students.
How do you feel about going back to school after getting a divorce? Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below!
May you find courage, faith, and strength to move forward into this new season of your life. I pray for your divorce to settle quickly and easily, and for your transition to student life to be smoother than you expect. May you find the right students to connect with, and may you find the right help and support when you’re confused, unsure, or scared. May you connect with other women going back to school after divorce, and find kindred spirits to see you through. ~ Amen, amen, and amen.