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Full-time students, parents

Photo courtesy of Margaret Moller

Monday morning rolls around and at 6 a.m. the alarm is blaring, letting junior Margaret Moller know it is time to get up and go to her college classes.

“Every Monday through Friday I wake up at six (a.m.) to get me and both of my kids ready for the day,” Moller said.

Most college students struggle with finding the perfect balance between schoolwork and a social life. Here at Drake University, full-time students balance school, working and being a full-time parent.

“My daughter Faith is in first grade and I have to get her to school by nine (a.m.),” Moller said explaining her morning routine. “I drop my son Charlie off at daycare then have to drive to Drake to make it to my classes.”

Staying at school until her classes dismiss at 2:30 p.m., the balancing act does not stop as she heads off to work at the emergency room from 3 to 11 p.m. Only for her to repeat her busy routine all over again tomorrow.

“You don’t have to sleep much to survive,” said senior Matthew Sowden.

Just like Moller, his routine also consists of getting up and getting someone else ready for the day.

“My wife is up by five and has to be to work at six, I get up around that time so that we can both get Reighlee up and dressed by 7:30 a.m. so she is ready for daycare,” Sowden said.

After dropping his daughter off, Sowden heads off to school to work on his double major in political science and economics.

“After school I pick Reighlee up and take her home. Then 3 p.m. rolls around and I’m off to work till nine. I do schoolwork after work late into the night and get up and do it all over again,” Sowden said.

For average everyday students a busy college life is hard to manage, but for these two parents they have learned what it means to find a way to get everything done.

“I put sleep last, I feel like I miss out on sleep,” Moller said. “I’m always working or studying, when I’m with my kids I try to fit in as much family time as I can.”

For both Moller and Sowden, deciding to continue on with their school and raising a family were important. Not wanting to be left wondering what their lives might have been like if they would have gone to college, both parents set goals to go and graduate from college to make a better future.

Moller was working as a customer representative when someone gave her some advice that made her start thinking about college.

“Someone told me once ‘you stop going to school you never go back.’ I don’t ever want my children to ever feel like they are the reason why I didn’t accomplish my goals,” Moller said.

When Moller’s daughter, Faith, was four years old, she decided to go to nursing school.

“I started that nursing school and was very unhappy,” Moller said. “My husband and I decided to I would go back to school and do something I love.  I’m in my junior year going after a degree in public relations now. My kids inspired me to go back, buckle down and work hard.”

Both Moller and Sowden have learned to manage their time and try to avoid wasting time or putting things off until the last minute

“I’ve learned not to waste my time watching TV,” Sowden said as he explains how he balances his college work load. “When I spend time with Reighlee I will take her to the (Pappajohn) Sculpture Garden cause she loves going there, but I will take a book with me so that I can get some work done also.”

Learning time management and patience helped making the transition into college a lot easier.

“I think you start to realize what is important and start to prioritize more important things,” Sowden said. “I don’t waste time, I try to get the things done that need to get done as soon as possible.”

At the same time, Moller has taken lessons from college and used them as teaching tools for her daughter. Sitting down with her daughter when they both have homework and working on it together, Moller hopes to teach her daughter not to procrastinate.

“I used to wait ‘till the last second to get my homework done,” Moller said. “It’s a teaching tool for her and helps me also get my homework done while she learns the advantages of getting her work done also.”

One of the harder things to juggle is having a social life like an average college student. Not being able to find the time to be a part of sororities and fraternities, or going to late night parties, or going to some college-hosted events because they are not a main priority.

“I’m still a regular college student,” Moller said.

This past summer Moller spent time in Egypt participating in Drake’s study abroad program. Leaving her kids at home with her husband for three weeks, she still got to have a typical Drake student experience.

“Once you have a child it restructures all you priorities and it gives you a whole new drive as to what you need to do to be successful,” Sowden said.

The hard work that both Moller and Sowden have put into their families and college life will hopefully pay off. Moller looks forward to the day that she will graduate from college and start a career she loves.

“I know when I graduate I will feel relieved cause I have worked so hard and have turned this life around. I have learned to appreciate so much,” Moller said.

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