Wa ‘Aleikom Salam,
At this point in your career (for motherhood is, indeed, a career), I would suggest looking beyond the typical “going back to school” and starting a new career option although that is an option. I will go over some of the ideas I have for you below:
Apply for a Job with a Company that Offers Training in Human Development: I am not sure what is available in Egypt. However, I know that in the United States there are various companies that offer training in “career counseling” or other areas if you join their team of employees. In some cases companies will even offer weekend training courses or 3-month training courses that you pay for, and at the end of that period of time you gain certification with the company and the rights to become part of a local team or open your own independent branch of their business from home or a small office. This is not a company I am familiar with, but this gives you an example of what I am talking about: http://www.erickson.edu
Start Your Own Consulting Business: Consider the option of starting your own consulting business. You appear to be a very self-motivated, active, creative, willing, and intelligent person who has good goal-setting and planning skills. All of these skills are ones that you would need if you wanted to start your own business. Not everyone has these skills and not everyone is interested or able to start their own business. To do this you would need to evaluate your specific interests and make a list of what skills you already have.
Could you be a mothering/parenting coach? Could you be a consultant for parents with teenagers? What kinds of skills did you gain during the past few years? Make a list of things you have experience in and go from there. Perhaps you spent many hours helping your children apply for colleges and prepare for testing. Could you help other parents and students do the same and be a college – readiness consultant who helps students figure out what they want to do with their lives and parents figure out how to help them get there? This is just one idea to give you an example of how something you did in the category of “human development” could be translated into a career. To do this you would need to:
- Decide on a theme for your business and describe it.
- Put this description into a brochure to hand out and/or a website.
- Have some business cards printed and create a business e-mail address.
- Find a place to conduct business. Offer to meet people in their homes, rent space at an office or share office space, or set up space in your home.
- Tell family and friends about your business and offer some free consultations to friends in return for them telling people about you and giving you evaluations on how you could improve or change.
- Research local consultants and figure out an hourly rate that is fair for you and for the client. You may want to start with a lower hourly rate until you gain more clients or offer a “free second hour” special for people. Depending on what you are offering you could also charge by “the package” rather than per hour.
Return to School Online: This is currently a highly acceptable method to gain a degree or further education. It has taken some time for this method of education to be accepted by the community. However, now, employers and educational institutions are realizing that students who study online are often very self-motivated, are able to handle tasks with less instruction, and can learn independently. It has also been recognized that students learn the same or more effectively online in some subjects. Of course, it would be near impossible to learn something like massage or how to cut hair online. However, in the area of human development there are many online classes available.
Be sure to know what your needs are before you decide on an online institution. Colleges that charge the most pay special accreditation boards to certify that their courses are acceptable. What you are paying for with these institutions is the accreditation and not necessarily the education. Be sure to check out student reviews as well as course offerings and methods of teaching. Accreditation simply means that someone has looked over their structure (not the quality or content of the classes) and decided that they offer enough reading materials, enough testing and proper testing procedures. You would want to choose this kind of education if your main goal is to transfer your credits to a college off-line or if you are applying for a job with a larger company such as a university. You can see an entire listing of colleges at: http://www.elearners.com/
If your main goal is education and the ability to work in the field, then you have more options. There are a number of quality and respected online institutions and people you can take classes and seminars from that offer degrees & certifications. These must all be evaluated on an individual basis. Do you like what they offer? Do you like the methods they teach with? Do they have a respected name in their field? Is the degree or certification they offer in line with the job you want or the business you want to start? I offer a degree in Typology and Temperament Consulting at http://www.theavicennainstitute.com/ where you can learn how to be a certified temperament consultant (to help people relate better to their children, spouses and/or family and help them make better choices in health, life and career). There are thousands of other people and institutions offering training in other fields of human development.
Return to School via Community College: Instead of pursuing a four-year degree I would recommend looking at a list of degrees from your local community college. These colleges often offer one-year training or two-year degrees in specific fields. The positive aspect of these degrees is that they can be completed quickly and they have a title that is recognized and will streamline you into a specific career. The drawback is that because they are so specialized you might have trouble transferring the degree to another line of business and not all of the classes you took may be transferable to another school if you decide to go further in your education. There is a nice list online of various topics you could choose in human development here: http://www.hdp.ucsd.edu/undergrad/careers.shtml
Note that careers like nursing or certain kinds of education could be achieved taking online courses and local courses or by taking a concentrated course at the local community college (for example, emphasizing a particular part of nursing such as how to read X-rays instead of getting the entire nursing degree). Other careers would require you attend school for a four-year degree.
I would still recommend starting with the one or two-year degree but making sure that your credits would transfer to another institution if you change your mind. This is a more affordable option time and money-wise and gives you some time to explore more options.
Your final decision depends on your final goal and how you envision yourself to be happiest.
Are you in a hurry to start a new career? Then you should choose to start your own business or train with a company.
Would you like to take your time to explore options? Then I would recommend formal studies online or at the local college.
Would you like to find a career that is flexible? Then I would recommend starting your own business.
Would you like to find a career that offers you retirement benefits and security? Then I would recommend a four-year degree or at least a two-year degree program.
Do you need a job to earn money? Then perhaps going back to school is not an option at this time and you can take an affordable online course or seminar (or not) and start your own business. Once you have some additional funds you could go onto the next stage.
Is money not important? Then a four-year degree might be a nice way to ease into a new career. Not everyone has the luxury of this time or is able to afford it. If you are, this may be an attractive option that would provide you with education as well as many networking and working opportunities while you are a student.
Ask yourself more of these questions. What do you want out of this new career? Most importantly you need to ask yourself what you enjoy doing most. Do you enjoy teaching? Managing people? Giving advice? Organizing things and people? Being with people on a daily basis? Having more time to yourself? The answers you give to these questions will lead you the rest of the way.
May Allah help you,
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