My College Story: Juggling Roles

Kayla Helton tells her story about being a working mom in college.

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Kayla Helton currently lives in Richmond Hill, GA with her husband and young son, but she moves frequently due to her husband’s job in the military. Prior to living in Georgia, she lived in Texas. Because her living situation isn’t the most stable, taking online classes is the best way for her to complete her postsecondary education.

Kayla is currently enrolled in online classes at Liberty University Online and is hoping to finish a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2017. She offers advice on taking online classes and insights into what it is like to be married to a member of the U.S. military.

Q. What are your current educational goals and what are you doing to achieve them?

My current education goals are to complete my bachelor’s degree and to have a class of my own in the next two years. I currently teach at a Christian academy that has preschool through fifth grade. I am hoping that by teaching in the preschool, I am helping to get my foot in the door for an elementary teacher position.

Q. What is your greatest challenge in achieving your goals?

My greatest challenge is having time to complete all of my school assignments. I currently teach full-time at a preschool, go to school full-time, and have an 18-month-old little boy, all while my husband is deployed. By the end of the day, I am ready to relax but I normally try to do most of my schoolwork at night after my son has gone to bed.

Q. What is the hardest part of taking online classes?

In my opinion, the hardest part of taking online classes is not having the face-to-face communication with the professor that you have in an on-campus class. When you have a question on an assignment, it is sometimes hard to translate a professor’s response over the computer.

Q. What is the easiest part of taking online classes?

The easiest part about online classes is definitely the flexibility. I have an extremely busy schedule, and it would be difficult to find time to attend an on-campus class. Online classes make it easier to do the assignments when I have time to sit down and focus.

Q. When did you meet your husband and what is it like being married to a member of the military? How does this affect your education and occupation?

I met my husband when we were in elementary school and we lived in the same neighborhood. He ended up moving away for a few years and we lost contact. In high school, we reconnected and began dating.

I’m not sure that there is a way to describe being married to a member of the military. You definitely have to be willing to be flexible because you don’t have control over a lot of the things and events that take place. Military life can be difficult and challenging, but it is absolutely worth it.

Luckily, I can teach in any state, so military life doesn’t necessarily affect my occupation. As for my education, it has set me back a few years. When my husband and I got married, I moved from Georgia to Texas. The move forced me to switch colleges, and due to different state requirements, I lost credits.

Q. You have several roles every day: mother, wife, student, and teacher, among others. How do you get everything done?

I honestly have no idea! My husband recently deployed and let me tell you, that has made everyday life a lot more hectic! I try to stay extremely organized and keep lists of what I need to do each week. It helps me to stay on track, and I feel like I am actually accomplishing things as I check them off.

Q. What advice do you have for students who are in a similar situation to yours?

Take your time and stay organized. It is so easy to get behind in online classes if you don’t organize your time. They move very quickly through the material because you are required to learn the same material that is taught in on-campus courses, but often in a shorter amount of time.  

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