Mother of six fits school into her schedule

Mon, 2009-11-30 08:15 -- univcomm
November 30, 2009

Every Sunday after church Dena Bischoff sits down with her six children, whose ages range from 3 to 17 years old, to plan out the next six weeks of their upcoming activities on their nearly 10-foot-wide dry erase board in the living room. Between school, cross-country, soccer, ROTC drills, youth group, and choir, there’s little space left on the color-coded board.

Dena Bischoff and familyBischoff, a math education major in the School of Adult Learning at Anderson University, left her general manager position at Ruby Tuesday after nine years. She wants to pursue a career in which she can have more impact on the lives of youth.

“My daughter said to me one day, ‘If you die, do you want to be remembered as a great general manager of Ruby Tuesdays or a great mom?’ After that, I took a step back and realized what was important,” says Bischoff. “I felt like God flicked me in the nose, and I realized money was not as important as having a strong family and having a good family conversation around the dinner table.”

To Bischoff, deciding to go to Anderson University was an obvious choice. “I wanted to go someplace that had a supportive environment, like my church,” says Bischoff. “At AU I know there is someone always looking out for me.” AU offers the one-on-one student/professor interaction that Bischoff values, something you don’t get from bigger schools, she explains.

“It’s really calming to hear the professor say, ‘Let’s bow our heads and pray before class,’ especially after a stressful day,” says Bischoff.

Being in the Navy for six years helped Bischoff with the time management skills needed to attend school full time and parent her children alongside her husband. Each day is carefully planned out to make sure not a minute is wasted. “I make a schedule and stick to it. This might mean giving up some house chores to accomplish my goals,” Bischoff says. “Make time for yourself and have faith in your choice.”

Bischoff’s children are very excited and supportive of their mother’s return to school. She hopes that her children can be inspired from her hard work as a mother and as a student. “I don’t even know what the remote to the TV feels like anymore,” says Bischoff. “I don’t think I have sat down to watch TV for myself in over a year.” Her hard work has paid off. Last semester she earned straight As.

It might be a complicated life for Bischoff, but her determination to go forth into her education has paid off, and she has become an inspiration for other mothers pursuing further education. Bischoff’s advice for mothers considering more schooling is, explain to your kids that it is a job, just like when you went to work. “It can be overwhelming at times,” says Bischoff, “but if I can do it, you can too.”

— P. Aaron Vogel is a senior from Fairmount, Indiana, majoring in communication arts with a minor in marketing. Vogel is an associate with Fifth Street Communications writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.

A typical day in the life of student/mother of six Dena Bischoff:

  • 6 a.m. - Dena Bischoff wakes up and starts getting four of her six children ready for school.
  • 6:20 a.m. - Bischoff debriefs with her children about upcoming day’s activities to make sure everyone gets picked up and not left behind, which has happened before, she confesses.
  • 6:30-7 a.m. - Bischoff and her husband spend time together, usually working the crossword puzzle in the newspaper.
  • 7 a.m. - The two other children wake up and Bischoff gets them ready for school.
  • 8:15 a.m. - Bischoff drops her two remaining children off at school and returns home to do laundry and load the dishwasher before loading her backpack for school.
  • 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. - Bischoff attends Anderson University’s School of Adult Learning.
  • 2:30 p.m. - Bischoff prepares a snack for the kids when they return home from school.
  • 3:15 p.m. - Her children arrive home from school and enjoy a snack.
  • 4:15 p.m. - Bischoff’s children pick up their rooms and play while she cleans up from snack time and begins supper.
  • 5:30 p.m. - Dinnertime; each member of the family goes around and shares their day’s experiences.
  • 7 p.m. - The little kids get their baths and are read a story every night before bed.
  • 8 p.m. - The little kids are asleep and Bischoff has time to reflect with her older children.
  • 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. - Bischoff works on homework and prepares for the next day.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.