With the job market as it is, a lot of people are considering some sort of graduate degree program – largely because, as the jobs do start opening back up, hiring will rebound earlier for advanced degree holders. Even though you are pursuing your education online, you are still pursuing a college degree. Just like any significant change in your life, you should talk with your family about your online education. Here are five points you might consider when helping your family and friends (and perhaps a skeptical interviewer) understand your endeavor.
1. Why College/Grad School?: Talk with your family about your decision to go back to school. When you do this, make sure you include specific, concrete reasons. Is there a particular job you hope to get with your degree? Will your degree help you make a better salary? Will your improved job or job security help your family in tangible ways?
2. Why Online?: Discuss your decision to pursue your degree online. Help your family understand the unique benefits of distance degrees, including convenience and flexibility. Tell them how you came to your decision, and acknowledge hesitations you might have had. Then explain your research into your school and program, and how the online aspect is most suitable for your needs.
3. How expensive?: Talk openly about the expense of your online degree, and how it will affect your family. Let them know about government aid, or your employer’s tuition reimbursement.
4. How can they help?: Give your family some idea about how they can assist you with your online degree. When will you need your own, quiet study time? Make a regular schedule that everyone understands. Enforce the schedule, sticking with your study times, until all of you become accustomed to the change.
5. How long?: Try to give your family a timeline, and to set goals. A big change like this can seem overwhelming if it is left open-ended. Perhaps you can find ways to celebrate the completion of a course, or of a semester, as a family.
Overall, just remember to keep the conversation honest, and to be patient. This is a big decision, and a big change, for you and for them. By including them from the beginning, your online degree will be an exciting endeavor for your family as a whole.