Posted by: Ingrid | April 7, 2010

Would you like fries with that elephant?

Back in December I talked about going back to school for a nursing degree and how hard it was for me to wrap my mind around the thought of trying to balance family life with plugging through science pre-reqs and then commiting to a nursing program, provided I got accepted.  I mentioned that it brought to mind the picture of trying to eat an elephant (and can I commend google images for actually having a funny picture for the phrase “eating an elephant” and not just pictures of lions tearing apart hapless elephants in Africa?) because it seems like such a huge task.

What I didn’t mention was that I was in the middle of the very long process of applying for the No Worker Left Behind Program (which always gives me the mental image of an adult in business clothes, briefcase in hand, running after a missed bus).  NWLB is a program that allows people to go to school (or in some instances go back to school) to earn a degree in a high demand field.  Nursing is, of course, just such a field.  If you jump through all of the hoops, turn in all the paperwork, go to the meetings and interviews that they require, and (in my case, because I already have a degree) write a letter of persuasion as to why you need to get another degree, you get $10,000 towards tuition, books, and lab fees to be used over a period of four years.

I heard about this program in September.  It took until March to get everything complete and in order.  It was very hard to follow through on because I knew very well that I probably would not qualify because of my degree.

Yesterday I received a call from my new case manager letting me know that I had $10,000 and four years, which will basically pay for everything at the community college nearby.  I was shocked, surprised, and excited.  But more than that I realized that hearing the good news that I’d worked so hard for brought up all sorts of worries and fears.

I’m afraid of failing.  I’m afraid I won’t be any good.  I’m afraid I won’t be able to balance home life and school.  I’m afraid that there won’t be any space for another baby in there and that I’ll miss out the best reproductive years of my life (don’t laugh- these things must be thought of!).  I’m afraid that Isaac will somehow be negatively impacted by my doing anything other than staying at home.  I’m afraid that I’ll have to ask for help that I don’t feel I deserve from people who are not obligated to give it.

At the same time, I’m intrigued by the challenge and feel as though I’ve been handed a gift.  I do want to go back to school and I’m not sure that ten years and four kids from now will be any easier than right now.  I also know that I can’t map the next four years out before starting on any particular course and the world has never been as black and white as it always appears to me at first glance.

In fact, a lot of it has been quite gray.  Sort of like an elephant.



  1. Well – go for it! Although you are only given 4 years to complete it, if it comes to the crunch and after a couple of years you take a break to have another child, well, you won’t lose the credits you’ve gained (though you may need to find another financial support)…one step at a time, break down the big picture into little parts that are more attainable; good luck!!

  2. I agree, go for it! I can say from personal experience that school and a baby is doable. I am in a similar situation and got a full tuition grant that would not allow me to take the semester off. I had my baby in January during my 2nd semester of grad school and it has been tough, but managable. I also work (although am on maternity leave still). You just need to look at it as a short time in your life and leading to where you want to be.
    Nursing is a great field, I am a NP and currently have a Master’s in nursing working towards DNP. The flexibility in the field in wonderful.

  3. Congratulations! That really does sound like an excellent opportunity. And why not at least try it, right? If it’s really not working out then you can alter plans (but I doubt that would happen) and still have some credits towards a nursing degree earned.

    I have to tell you, though, that picture SCARES ME!!


    • It is kind of scary, isn’t it? But it’s not gross scary like the National Geographic-like photos of the lions and their poor shredded elephant prey!

  4. Do it!!! A girlfriend of mine just did a 2 year mid-wifery course while doing shift work and juggling a husband and toddler. Her little girl hasn’t suffered at all (outgoing, gorgeous thing!) and she’s almost done with final exams. If you truly want to do this then it will come together! 🙂

  5. […] the whole, particularly when I stumbled back on the many many many many thoughts I’d had about the nursing school process over the past eight years it has […]

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