Mom's Next Move is back May 4! If you're a mom considering going back to school and can't silence the doubts in the back of your mind, College of Western Idaho student, Tehani Schnupp wants you to know you can.

Starting on Monday, May 4 we'll start taking nominations for one mom to receive a full year's scholarship to the College of Western Idaho. While you use your quarantine time to think about whether this is the right step for you, Tehani wants you share her CWI experience with you to give you an idea of what your future could look like. She's a mom of five, pursuing two degrees and two other certifications. She goes to school spring, summer and fall, carries a 15-18 credit course load and has maintained a 4.0 GPA.

Below is her story about making the decision to go back to school and the things she considered carefully with her family before clicking the "register" button for her first semester.  After you read her story, if you've got questions for Tehani that you want to ask her mom-to-mom use the form at the bottom of the page to submit your question and we'll have her answer it in a future blog!

Image via Tehani Schnupp

Making the Decision to Go Back to School; Choosing CWI

Have you ever had a splinter and no matter what you did, you couldn’t stop thinking about it? You pick and scratch, rub and squeeze, and maybe even grab the tweezers. But, all the while you avoid the thing you know will work—grab a needle, get in there and get that splinter out. That was what the decision to go back to school was like for me. It was a constant, irritating feeling that I could not get away from. I would poke at it from time to time, Google some college classes and, even get so far as to hover my mouse over the registration icon… but I would talk myself out of it time and time again. I mean really, what was I thinking? I was the mother of five kids (aged three to fourteen at that time). I was a wife at home manning the front lines of sports schedules, packing lunches, bath times, homework, music lessons, and laundry…school just seemed ridiculous to add to the equation.

Image via Tehani Schnupp

After my fifth and final baby, I’d left my phlebotomist position (that I loved) to avoid daycare for our baby and the kids. I loved phlebotomy and I loved my patients, but I hated the toll it took on our family life and the precious time I was losing with my little ones that were quickly growing to be not so little at all. As the time grew closer and closer to our fifth child coming to join our motley crew, that little splinter began to scream a little louder. I wanted a career in marketing that would allow me to work remotely, help meet my family’s needs and achieve a livable income. But that meant going back to school. My husband only made my “splinter pain” worse, constantly showing me ways we could make my going back to school happen. I would look at him and saw his not one, but his two master’s degrees that he pushed through while maintain multiple jobs and I started thinking that I might be able to do this too. My excuses slowly began to whittle down to one real point: I didn’t believe in me.

I was the class mom, the PTO fundraiser, the wife that ran this ship with precision. I knew my world, but I didn’t know if a new version of me as a full-time student could hack it. The humiliation of failing in front of my kids and family, the time management, the organization…how could I do it all? And then…this perfect baby boy was born and as the months passed by at home my fear of school turned into a red-hot fire. Maybe it was the post baby hormones, but I got angry at myself as I sat there hypocritically giving my teenage daughters my standard “There is nothing to fear but fear itself” kind of pep talk as they were preparing to audition for a school play part, or apply for a job.

Image via Tehani Schnupp

Then I began to hear the younger me voice. You know the younger you voice. The 20-year old you that could run on no sleep, do these impossible things with limitless energy and enthusiasm, that could make you believe that you could climb Everest itself if you had an extra shot of coffee before you headed out that day? That younger me collided with the older me, calling me out for the hypocrite I was, speaking to my own children about fear and strength all the while not facing my own fear. Then an all too familiar day came when I was hovering over the registration icon…and I clicked the button.

The College of Western Idaho was the right fit for me. The tuition costs were the lowest I could find of any other local college. Also, it was really the size of CWI that I was drawn to. I was looking for a smaller college where a shy mom could work more easily to feel comfortable with this new world of school. Class sizes were small, and the campuses were easy to navigate with enough easy parking that it wouldn’t stress me out trying to find a spot. My very first call into the CWI One Stop line to ask some registration questions confirmed to that I was in the right spot. The voice on the other end of the line baby-stepped me through my questions and that conversation was peppered with phrases like “You got this Tehani!”  and “We know you can do this!” like comments. I finished that call feeling like I was in the right place and ready to take on this next chapter in my life. Several subsequent calls followed to complete my registration and each was critical to solidifying my sense of confidence in myself and my choice of schools. I had so many questions, and no matter how much time it took, there was a CWI One Stop team member always available to answer my litany of inquiries.

By the end of my registration, I was a Marketing Associates degree student enrolled full-time. I didn’t know it on registration day, but I wasn’t going to stop there. I was going to go on to add a whole other degree in Media Arts and two other certifications… and still graduate on time. The me that registered that day would have NEVER thought it possible to carry 15-18 credits each semester, go to school spring, summer, and fall while holding a 4.0 GPA and still graduate on time. I would have told you was a complete impossibility. But today, that is exactly what I am doing. I am three semesters from graduation, and then, who knows? Maybe a bachelor’s or a master’s degree? Maybe a dozen master’s degrees? What I can say for certain is that I know that I can go as far as I want to have the career I want. Maybe that belief in myself means more than a whole bucket load of degrees and certifications.