There are approximately 16 million single parents in the United States who are responsible for over 25 million children. The pressures these parents face both in the way of inspiring their children and being able to financially give them the best life pushes many towards going back to school to obtain their college degree.
But how can a single parent become a fulltime college student while also managing their responsibilities at home?
While there's no perfect answer to this question, it's important to know there are ways to balance your life in a way that always makes getting an education possible.
Below, we outline 8 important tips single parents who aspire to be fulltime college students should consider.
1. Optimize Your Class Schedule
The good thing about being a fulltime college student is that you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to class schedules. For example, you can stack all of your courses on a Monday and then have the rest of the week to be at home, managing homework and being there for your family.
Alternatively, you could spread out classes in small spurts throughout the week during the early morning or late evening. That way you're never away from your house for too long.
Whatever your home situation is, assess it, and then try to build your class schedule in a way that fits your lifestyle.
2. Online Courses
If stepping away from your home for any amount of time is too long, you can either take the majority of your fulltime college student courses online or even your entire program.
To get started, filter out available classes when registering for college to only see online courses. Then, pick courses that you need for your desired major.
If you're having trouble finding robust online options through your public learning institution, consider opting for a private school which tends to offer 100% online programs. You can even try alternative credit options which are excellent.
3. Grants and Scholarships
One of the biggest barriers to being a fulltime college student and a single parent are expenses. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways you can help mitigate your college costs.
To start, be sure to apply to all state and federal grants you may qualify for. Your school's financial aid representative should be able to move you in the right direction.
Then, talk to your school's scholarship representative or search online for scholarships that are built for single parents returning to school. These scholarships are generally lower in competition than others which gives you a good chance of winning them.
4. Lean on Friends and Family
Whether you're needing to commute to campus one or two times a week or you just need some space to do homework, there probably will be times where you need to take a step back from your children.
If doing this is going to be difficult for you, consider asking friends and family to pitch in. Your loved ones should understand the strides you're trying to make to improve you and your kid's lives and be willing to chip in while you focus on your studies.
If you don't have a support system to lean on, look into free child care services that may be offered at your college. If feasible, you could also hire childcare services.
5. Make Your Kids Aware
Your children may not understand why it is you're spending more time away or more time isolated in your homework area. One of the ways you can help them appreciate your position is by having an honest discussion with them.
Talk to your children and tell them about the merits of college. Let them know why it is you're continuing your education and how it will help both you and them. Ask them for their support and understanding.
If you're honest and open with your children, you may be surprised how much easier managing them and your education simultaneously will be.
6. Get Organized
Time will be of the essence when you're managing being a fulltime college student and a fulltime single parent. Due to that fact, it's important that your time is optimized.
To get organized, set weekly goals for yourself and do your best to ensure that they get priority before other more menial tasks steal your focus. During your goal setting, be sure to always make setting aside time to decompress something you want to achieve.
If you're all work and no play, you may find yourself burned out and unable to complete your collegiate goals.
7. Seek Out Campus Resources
Schools are well aware of a lot of the challenges their students go through. Because of that, it can be very helpful for you to be open about your status as a single parent and see what your school can do to help.
A great place to start this conversation is with your campus counselor. They can notify you of any resources or benefits the school has for you.
You can also talk to your instructors who may be more flexible with you given how spread thin you are.
8. Learn to Say No
Your priorities will need to be more defined than ever if you're a single parent and a college student. Because of that, you'll need to turn down more engagements to make sure you don't fall behind.
To help you get ahead of that situation, know now that you're going to need to say no to a lot more people. Friends, family members, your kids and others.
If you explain why and what you're trying to achieve, they should understand.
Wrapping Up Tips to Being a Fulltime College Student and a Single Parent
Being a single parent can be a difficult yet tremendously rewarding experience. If you're a single parent looking to better your family's life by going back to school, know that you're not alone and that there's a path for you.
We recommend following our steps outlined above and staying mentally strong as you deal with the unavoidable challenges that lie ahead.
If you're patient and take each day a step at a time, you will find your way to fulltime college student academic success!
Are you a single parent looking for an easy and effective way to start earning college credits now? If so, we can help.
Our team at Ed4Credit offers online courses that will give you real college credits you can transfer to colleges and universities. We specialize in providing ultra-flexible learning options to inspirational people like you who want to go further in life.