Laura de Medici-Bentley: It’s never too late to go back to school

Laura de Medici-Bentley

My big accomplishment this week was signing up for online classes again. I have been pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree “on-and-off” for the past couple of years with the University of Phoenix. My education journey has been a rocky one, mainly because of my indecisiveness. I started off as an elementary education major, and then I wanted a “broader” major, so I switched to communications. After a year of teaching, I decided that a psychology major would be most beneficial.

I chose the University of Phoenix because I wanted to be able to work full-time while going to school. Each class is condensed into 5 weeks, and most students take one class at a time. By taking one five-week class at a time, you can earn a bachelor’s degree in the same amount of time as you would going to a traditional school.

When I had Livia, I knew that the “timeline” for finishing my degree would probably change a little. When I was “full-time-working mom,” I found it very difficult to manage my time with schoolwork. I thought I would easily be able to do my schoolwork once Livia was asleep, but I often had planning and tasks to complete for my own classroom as well. I also underestimated my University of Phoenix workload. Online schools often get the unfair reputation for being “easy” or “diploma mills,” and while some of my professors were very lenient, I had just as many who were very demanding.

I knew I would finally have time to for school “as soon as” I started staying home. However, even with a more flexible schedule, my biggest challenge has always been time management. During nap time, it was very tempting to “veg out” instead of doing school work — especially after a busy morning. And for as long as I can remember, I have been the world’s biggest procrastinator, claiming I work best under pressure. Procrastinators don’t do well in five-week classes.

After my most recent hiatus from school, I realized that my clock was ticking. Livia will be in kindergarten in three short years. My husband, who has always been very goal-oriented, has always known exactly what he wants to do and what he needs to do to get there. When he asked me what my plan was once Livia went to kindergarten, I was ashamed that I didn’t have an answer. He encouraged me to finish school, even if I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do career-wise. He reminded me that he took a break from school as well, but after realizing how difficult finding employment without a degree is, it motivated him to return to Shenandoah and finish his degree before we were married.

I decided it was time to pick up the phone and speak with my academic adviser. We talked about time-management strategies and she gave me some really helpful tips for staying ahead of my work. She also told me exactly how many classes I needed to finish: 22. I calculated that by the time Livia is in kindergarten, I can not only have my bachelor’s degree, but I can also earn a master’s degree in that time frame. I thought about how accomplished I will feel, having done something so important for myself. This time, I’m not making excuses, and I’m not taking any breaks. I’m in this for the long-haul, until I am finished. It’s never too late to go back!

Laura de Medici-Bentley, of Winchester Virginia, is a former early childhood educator who currently enjoys staying home with her 2-year-old daughter. She is an author of a personal blog, She can be reached at