Heading back to college as an adult is never easy. Many of us have families, jobs and other demands on our time. Then, of course, there’s the financial strain it can place on our budgets. I know, because I have been there. Nine years ago, I made the decision to quit my job and go back to college to finish my degree. I was worried about being the oldest student in my classes (I wasn’t!) and how I was going to pay for everything without disrupting my children’s lives. I didn’t want them to give up any of their activities or make any huge changes to the way we lived. Why should my dream make their lives miserable? So, I did some research to see if I might be able to find some free money for college. I had a son, who was a sophomore in high school, and he was already applying for college scholarships. I found that many of these programs were also open to me. Unfortunately, he wasn’t really thrilled to be competing against his mother for scholarships, so I tried to find programs that were more suited to my skills and needs. I soon found several programs that targeted women and mothers, which meant I could apply without the worry of eclipsing my son. I’ll never forget the first award I won; it was right before Mother’s Day and my children put the notification letter in a box with a silver charm that said ‘winner.’ It’s still one of my favorite gifts to this day.