Advancing Your Degree as A MOMgienist®

Jasmin Haley
© Jasmin Haley

You exhale a sigh of relief. You made it through dental hygiene school. The most demanding and rewarding two years of your life. You have either started a family prior to school or have begun growing your family after successfully finishing the program. You’ve reached the point where you want to advance your career and your degree. How can you successfully advance your degree as a MOMgienist?  With careful planning and creating a support network, you can accomplish your education goals while raising your family.

If you are anything like myself advancing your degree is challenging when your children heavily rely on you. I attempted to advance my degree on two separate occasions and did not progress forward on each attempt. Although I passed both classes, I opted to not remain in school because of how hard it was to complete one course while managing work full-time, maintaining a religious lifestyle, supporting my children, and being a wife. Something had to give!! This article will not tell you what to prioritize. However, it will empower you based on my personal experience to not give up your goal of advancing your degree. It’s important to realize that we all have our own unique experiences and pathways.

Take small steps each day towards your goals. Never give up!

In 2016, I was accepted into the graduate program at the first dental hygiene school in the world, University of Bridgeport, Fones School of Dental Hygiene. This was my third attempt at going to school with small children. However, this time was different! I followed these steps below to make it to my final year of graduate school. I successfully work as an adjunct faculty member, head the growth of my business, attend graduate school full-time, and maintain my household. This article will share some of the fundamental reasons why I have been able to advance my degree as a MOMgienist.

Plan with your family

It is imperative that you plan your family around school. What does that mean? I had to have a conversation with my support system to explain the responsibility of graduate school and how it will affect the family. My support system had to chip in where I could not. We enlisted our most trusted friends and family to help with our children where needed. We also arranged time for me to be in the lair of graduate school aka my office space. When planning we answered these questions: Who will do the most cooking? Who will pick up the children? Who will watch the children while I’m studying? What days will we designate as only family days? Who will provide financially for the family? How much money will we need to stay afloat? How will we pay for school? These are questions that must be answered before you pursue an education as a parent.

Don’t be afraid to take a break

A dance break!!! Or even a break to play with your children! There will be times that you are completely exhausted, and you will have nothing left to give. You MUST take a break to rejuvenate yourself and remember who you were before school began. One of my biggest lessons in the process of obtaining my graduate degree is the importance of self-care. I was solely focused on my family, business, and my mental health. I forgot to care for my physical and spiritual health. You can never be truly successful without being aligned mentally, spiritually, and physically. In your planning make sure to include time for yourself, free of any obligations and focused on your “whole”-istic health.

Do your best

As MOMgienists®, we often deal with mommy guilt and self-doubt. We need to understand that we are enough. We should do the best we can and never think that our best is some perverted sense of perfectionism. Hunny, it doesn’t exist! Our best may be taking a nap, choosing to postpone school for our sanity, watching a little too much TV, leaving the laundry for another day, etc. I started off my graduate program with the goal of getting all A’s. Why? Where did that need for perfectionism come from? At what cost did I achieve that? My physical health! Understand, where your priorities are and realize that your degree is still achievable with not-so-perfect grades. Your personal health and happiness will translate into your family’s happiness.

Remember the MOMgienists from the past and future

You are not alone! You aren’t the first MOMgienist to continue their education and successfully finish! Don’t forget there have been many that have come before you and many that will successfully graduate after you. Never lose sight of what is most important — Who you are as a person and your family!

Mamas, advance your degree at your pace. Never feel pressured to do it on anyone else’s terms. These years will fly by in no time! If you decide to advance your degree, make sure to carefully plan so that your family life stays intact. It’s hard but doable!  I’m an example of never quitting and following your dreams. I will be “dabbing” across the stage with my girls and husband when I collect my graduate degree May 2018!!  A true family affair!

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