When my husband, Bruce, and I had been married ten years, we felt it was important for him to go back to college and complete a degree he had begun soon after our first child was born. So after a lot of thought and planning, he applied and was accepted to college. We sold our home and moved into an apartment. Four and a half years later, our six children, Bruce’s parents, and I watched as Bruce walked across the platform and received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.
During those college years and in the years since, people have often told us, “I would sure like to go back to school, but it seems impossible.” We have found that although it requires a lot of planning and sacrifice, going back to school while rearing a family is possible. Here are a few things we discovered that might help others who may be considering returning to college.
Visit the college or university you would like to attend before applying for admission. Look for a Latter-day Saint institute program for students in the area.
See what types of housing are available for your family. If you have a large family, it may be difficult to obtain campus housing because large units are scarce and waiting lists are usually long. You may want to live in the community away from the hustle and bustle of campus.
Before choosing a major, talk to a career development counselor to determine if there is a demand for people trained in your area of interest. Ask questions about available job opportunities, salary ranges, and working conditions.
Financing an education is often of great concern to young students, and even more so to students with families to support. We tried to limit our educational debt by exploring sources of money available to students.
We looked into such options as guaranteed government student loans that can be obtained at a low interest rate, the repayment of which is deferred until after graduation; grants, which are based on financial need and do not have to be repaid; and scholarships. Ask the college financial aid office for applications and information on these and other financial assistance programs.
Always pay tithes and offerings. Our family received many blessings as a result of our paying tithing while Bruce was in school. I vividly remember writing out a tithing check one afternoon and realizing that in so doing we would not have any food money for the coming week. That very day we received a letter enclosing a rebate check for an energy conservation tax credit we had earned for insulating our home three years earlier.
Be sure to have medical insurance. Major medical expenses can financially ruin a family for years. Shop around for coverage suited to your needs and your budget. Many universities offer health insurance policies, but such policies are often designed for single students, not families. Carefully check to make certain such policies will adequately cover your family.
We learned our medical insurance lesson the hard way. After ten years of being medically insured and having no major accidents or illnesses, we felt confident in going without insurance for the duration of Bruce’s schooling. But within a nine-month period, our young son needed surgery, our sixth child was delivered by emergency Caesarean section, and our daughter had to have her appendix removed. Thankfully, we had relatives who helped us out until we were able to cover our medical costs ourselves.
Be creative. Find ways to be self-sufficient and to bring in a little extra income. Bruce worked part-time throughout his years of schooling, and I tended children in our home so I could supplement our income while caring for our six children. We learned to get by with and appreciate what we had. The children still talk about the wheat flake cereal I made from our food storage.
Although we faced many challenges as a family while Bruce was earning his degree, we have no regrets. Our family grew very close during those years. We learned together, we sacrificed for each other, and we grew to love and appreciate each other more than ever before.—, Mohave Valley, Arizona
Pictures for a Lifetime
If one picture is worth a thousand words, a family photograph album must be worth volumes. Here are a few tips to help you produce, mount, and store your photos and negatives in order to make you family’s photographic history interesting, enjoyable, and an important source of information.
Taking the Pictures
Remember that a good photo begins with a sharp, well-framed, and correctly exposed image—not expensive equipment.
Often the most engaging photos are unplanned—baby’s first step, children spattered with paint from an art project, or Dad taking cookies from the cookie jar. A candid photo may reward you with genuine emotion not attainable otherwise.
Record habits, characteristics, or talents of individual family members. Each photo can tell a story, whether it conveys a feeling through someone’s expression or an event through action. Illustrate everyday family life, and give added dimension to your subjects by catching them in routine activities such as mowing the lawn, playing with pets, or visiting neighbors. Family heirlooms and artifacts may also be photographed to create artistically expressed portraits. For example, one of Grandma’s handmade quilts can serve as a backdrop for a photograph of her.
Mounting Your Memories
Give some thought to the layout of each page in your photograph album. Photos may be arranged in a variety of ways; for example, you can group them by personality, by event, or chronologically.
Label and mount photos soon after they are developed so you can record important information about them while the events are still clear in your mind.
Use photo-safe products such as acid-free paper and photo-safe glues and inks. Mounting photos with common household glues and cements or on preglued or magnetized sheets can damage photos irreparably. Using appropriate products can preserve photos for generations.
Negatives and slides are fragile and easily damaged. Protect them from scratches, dents, dust, and moisture.
I have found that archival plastic negative sheets are ideal for storing both slides and negative strips. These sheets can be bound in albums and labeled with a brief description.
Store negatives and photograph albums in separate places, keeping the negatives easily accessible. In the event of an emergency, negatives may be saved more easily than several bulky albums of photos.
Light and humidity can damage negatives and photos. Ideally, each should be stored in a safe, cool, dry, and dark place, with approximately 40 percent humidity and between 60 and 75 degrees.
A well-designed photographic history can help families vividly recall special times in their lives. It can strengthen bonds of affection, togetherness, and unity.—, Mesa, Arizona
Harmony in the Home
For more than a year now, our family has enjoyed a nightly tradition—we sing songs together. Our singing time has become a favorite time for everyone in the family.
In January I make a list of twelve hymns and Primary songs for our family to learn during the year. By focusing on one song a month, we fill our home with the sweet spirit that comes from singing Primary songs and hymns. Every night before scripture study and family prayer, we sing the song or hymn we’ve chosen for that month. The results have been wonderful.
Our family now knows many hymns and Primary songs that we can sing together. Some of our happiest moments are spent singing as a family—and not just at night. We sing throughout the day as well. And we have found that our nightly singing helps even our youngest children feel more reverent for scripture reading and family prayer. Seeing smiles of delight appear on the faces of my little boys when we sing a familiar song in church makes the learning and singing of hymns at home even more worthwhile.—, Caliente, Nevada
Our Helping Hands
Our family, especially our seven-year-old, loves family home evening. Not a week goes by that he does not remind us to plan the week’s lesson and activity. Over the years we have had many memorable family home evenings, including one of our favorites—“Helping Hands.”
One Monday night after an opening song and prayer, we talked about many of the wonderful things our hands can do: draw a picture, pet an animal, help with the housework, make cookies, and much more. We discussed ways we could use our hands to serve members of the family. Then we made several tracings of our hands on colored construction paper, cut the tracings out, and decorated them. Soon we each had a small stack of “helping hands” to use throughout the week.
During the next week, whenever we performed an act of service for another family member, we were to leave one of our helping hands near the scene of the service. What a wonderful week we had! Helping hands were found on pillows after a bed had been made, in the dishwasher after dishes were put away, and in the family room after toys had somehow found their way into the toy box.
Our family has become stronger and closer through our family home evenings. We are grateful for the time we can spend together each week preparing to be an eternal family.—, Salem, Oregon