Facing my fears and returning back to school at 35 years old: What I have learned

©V Kancel
©V Kancel

Since September as some of you may know, I have returned back to university.

I'm preparing a two years MA in Business and Strategy at the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Paris. (ESCP)


It was a process that seemed obvious to me after more than 10 years as a entrepreneur and an expertise built hands on.  When I was in college, I was fortunate enough to be able to study everything I wanted. I am lucky I was a student in London where education is much more versatile and less conservative than in France.

Japanese, international trade, law, and entrepreneurship all in a bachelor's degree in Human resources management!

But you may have understood by now that it is in business and entrepreneurship that I found my happiness.


That was almost 11 years ago. Today after 3 companies and 1 failure... (which was a very good lesson fortunately)

I aspire to do something else...The problem is that I don’t know what yet. 🤷‍♀️


½ The right solution to avoid wasting my time while I'm still looking for that thing I want to be doing in the next 10 years, was to go back to school. 


Easier said than done.

But since the past 6 months I re-discovered a part of me that I had forgotten and discovered many other things.

Let me share with you here what I have learned by returning back to school at 35:

Between being a student and being a student mom there is a world

The only thing in common: wanting to get wasted big time after my exams 😆

Being a student and a mom at the same time is the biggest challenge. 

Next to this, other challenges are easy peasy.

Between taking care of sick children, interruptions galore during my work sessions, non-stop errands, short and sometimes non-productive working times, the life of a mom mixed with that of a student is not a bowl of fun.


But oddly enough my kids were also my salvation.

10 years ago when I was losing it over my research paper, I had no one to look for for a little comfort. Today it’s different.


½ My children were a real escape for me when it was hard and I felt I couldn't achieve anything.


I thank them for that. And there’s another person that I have to thank...

Getting help and understanding from my second half

I’m so thankful that my hubby and I work as a team.

He was the one who took sole care of our home while I was writing my last research project and since I am due to finish my master's degree sometimes mid-2020, he still has a lot to do to help me succeed in my studies.

Might as well rub him up the right way…


My mom and mother-in-law also have been very helpful especially in caring for my children during my class days.


½ My little advice for solo moms:


Don’t be scared to put all your family members in the process too.

Mom, Dad, aunties, brothers, sisters, everybody. For you to succeed in your studies, no halfhearted measures!

You need to count on their support in this short but intense moment of your life so don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help!

Explain the whole situation to my children and why

I didn't do it right away but after a few weeks, I explained to my 6 y.o that mom had returned to school.

Past the questions : "Are we going to do our homework together?", "Do you also have snack time?" ... She's the one who channels her little brother when I'm trying to study with them at home. She says "Stop Elijah, mom is trying to work! you're making too much noise!"


I also reward them for allowing me to work the morning for example by offering them a nice afternoon day out or a fancy restaurant in the evening.

Working in the morning is the best

I’m done with the vampire working sessions till 5 am.

In my head, past 8pm all professional conscience and common sense disappear.


Even with coffee breaks every hour, there’s nothing I can do to be productive... So I have organized myself to work early.

What works for me: going to bed early and waking up 1 to 2 hours before my kids.

I can work properly and truly feel the reward of it during the day.

That being said… I can either use this time to work, prepare my planner, do my make-up, or peep at the gram, my call... 😉

It’s my ME TIME moment!

©V Kancel
©V Kancel
©V Kancel
©V Kancel

Being organized is the key

I am organized by nature but since I am a student mom, I learned how to push it to the extreme:

  • Preparing meals in advance (I wrote about it in french here on the blog)
  • Preparing clothes for everyone in the evening
  • Back to back laundry cycles
  • Bulk grocery shopping
  • Having a monthly schedule displayed for the whole family…

Since September my house has been running like a small squadron.

And to each their own, especially Daddy who by taking his homemade meals to work saves almost 200-300€ (250-350$) per month by avoiding eating out daily.

Going back to school is financially draining

To be able to resume my studies, I had to apply for a training grant to my local government.

For this I needed to register as a job seeker.

ESCP training is very high level and without surprise, it is also very expensive: 22 000 euros over 2 years.


My local government training scheme got 90% of my tuition fees covered. I still have to pay 10% of the training fee, so 2 200 € from my pockets.

But it’s worth it especially because the school offered me a payment plan.


Depending on your country of residence, I advise you to get help from the following institutions to set up your education project:

  • If you are an employee: your HR service for a training while at work scheme
  • If you are seeking employment:
    • Your Job Center
    • Your Council
    • Your municipality
    • Social workers
    • Any other job/training institution.

Returning back to school as an adult in addition to being a personal project can also be financially challenging.

Not everyone can afford to pay out tuition fees of their pocket. It’s better to put all odds on your side and do some research well before the start date.

Usually there’s a deadline for applications at least 3 months before the course start date.

©V Kancel
©V Kancel

As you can see, it’s not a decision out of consequence for the family but oh so rewarding and rich of sense for its life project.


In addition to my new qualifications, returning back to university will improve my employability if I ever choose to go back to a normal job. Thus, improving my family life altogether... And this my fellow mommas, is the greatest teaching of all!


What about you? Have you ever wanted to go back to school?

Have you started the process or has this article given you more info and vision about it all?


Tell me everything in the comments and if you like the article, don’t be a rag, brag about it and share it all over!

Read my latest blog posts here:

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