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‘Five incredible reasons why it’s so worth it’

Non-traditional student explains how she balances classes and five kids

By Tedi Burks
On November 16, 2018

Non-traditional student Tedi Burks with her newborn.

College is a time of newfound freedom and the beginning of adulthood.

Between sports practice and hanging out with friends, deadlines and exam dates are the most stressful part of being a student.

At least that’s generally true for traditional students.

Castleton University also has a portion of the student population who fall into a “non-traditional student,” category. Being a non-traditional student myself, I have discovered a whole new realm of ways student life can be stressful.

I transferred to Castleton this fall from out of state and bought a house not far from campus. But venturing from the warm beaches of California to the rapidly falling temperatures of Vermont has not even been the biggest adjustment for me this year.

This past August, I married a man who already had three children of his own, and when I began classes this fall – I was well over eight months pregnant with our second child.

So that’s how I became a married Castleton transfer student with a mortgage, four children, and pregnant. All by the age of 22.

Being an independent student with children at home while pregnant has definitely made my college experience anything but traditional.

Being pregnant and attending classes presented me with a lot of dilemmas I never would have considered had I not experienced them first-hand.

How do you fit in a desk when you’re over nine-months pregnant?

And, what if you go into labor during class?

Sideways, you sit sideways. And just cross your fingers that you don’t go into labor during class — and cross your legs too. 

Luckily, I did not go into labor during class, and I was able to welcome my newborn baby girl over October break. 

Now that I am balancing my classes with five children at home, some may think that my attendance is slacking.

However, quite the opposite is true.

I have pretty remarkable attendance for someone in my situation. Compared to my bustling household filled with the cheerful—and not so cheerful—screams of so many kids, college classes now serve as my quiet refuge.

Of course, the shock of finding myself in an almost silent environment while at school has provided me with a new dilemma: not falling asleep in class.  

Although balancing student life with five children is hard work, it also gives me five incredible reasons why it is so worth it. 

 

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