As a single parent in college, you face challenges other students can’t imagine. Like them, you have to keep your grades above average, turn in homework on time, and prepare for quizzes, exams, and tests. But besides all of these, you have to cook meals for your kids, take them to daycare, and find enough money to cover the expenses of child support. What’s more? You’re all on your own with these duties and struggles.
Sadly, these difficulties cause a huge percentage of single parents to drop out of college. If you aren’t sleeping enough, don’t have enough time for your kids, and your grades are failing, you might be worried you’ll be the next single parent in college to drop out without earning your degree.
Still, something inside you tells you to keep going. You know earning your degree will change not only your own life, but the lives of your children. You’ll do better financially. You’ll also be able to prove to your kids the importance of persistence when the going gets rough.
So, how can you overcome the common obstacles of being a single parent in college? Read on to find out the roadblocks that can stand in your way as a single parent and how to overcome them.
Three Huge Obstacles You Face as a Single Parent in College
Attending college and being a single parent are two separate things that require you to be tough, dedicated, and persistent. But what if you had to do both at the same time? Naturally, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with roadblocks and challenges. Here are three of them.
1. The Cost of Raising and Caring for Children
College prices are going up. For example, in the past 20 years, in-state tuition at national universities has increased by 221%. To complete just one year of college, you’ll need an average of $10, 230. This figure doesn’t include room and board, books, transportation, and the other expenses you’ll incur as you work your way towards your degree.
Now, imagine these expenses coupled with the costs of caring for children. According to The Atlantic, childcare costs an average of $10,000 per year per child.
Being a single parent in college is not cheap.
2. The Time and Dedication Required to Raise Children
As a college student, your days are busy with attending lectures. At night, you focus on completing your homework and preparing for the next day’s classes. College already takes a huge chunk of your time and thoughts.
Now, what if you’re juggling both the requirements of college and taking care of children? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, parents need an average of 3.9 hours a day to manage the needs of children below six. That leaves less time for sleep, study, and joining extra-curricular activities at school.
The problem gets even bigger when you have to work to support yourself as you pursue your degree. If you’re like 85% of current students, you hold either a part-time or full-time job to help you pay for your college expenses. As a single parent in college, you may have to work even more than the average four hours a day to support your child financially.
With so much time spent on childcare, work, classes, and homework, you have less time for sleep, self-care, and socializing.
If you’re a single parent in college, you’re likely overwhelmed with work, raising your kids, and studying at the same time. Unfortunately, not being able to find a solution will lead to you burning out and dropping out of college.
3. The Difficulty of Dealing with Unexpected Situations
Life happens. When you least expect it, you come face-to-face with challenges and hurdles. For instance, your child can get sick and require you to deal with huge hospital bills. Or you can get sick and suddenly get off-track with your studies, work, and childcare. If you don’t have a strong support system to keep you going, chances are you’ll feel overwhelmed and consider dropping out to end the difficulty of living a demanding life of commitments that feel overwhelming.
The good news is there are ways to overcome the obstacles of being a single parent in college.
Five Ways to Overcome the Obstacles of Being a Single Parent in College
According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, only around 31% of single mothers hold a college degree. Between 2003 and 2009, only 28% of single mothers completed their course in six years.
Although the numbers are scary, you shouldn’t lose hope. Read on to learn five ways you can beat the odds and become part of the small percentage who do make it to graduation.
1. Consider Grants and Other Programs
There are several grants, programs, and other resources that can help you pay for college. Here are three examples.
1. Government Grants that Provide Childcare for Single Parents in College
If your child has not yet started school, it can be difficult to find someone to care for them while you’re attending classes. The good news is grants like the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program provides funding for childcare within the campus.
Can you live on campus with a baby? For many colleges, the answer is no. But with on-campus childcare, it’ll be easier for you to manage your schedule and feel assured your child is cared for while you attend classes. Before you enroll in a college, inquire whether your targeted college is supported by a government grant for childcare.
2. Local Grants Offering Housing, Childcare, and Transportation
Depending on where you live, you can inquire after local grants that help single parents in college. For instance, you can find grants supporting colleges for single mothers with housing in Texas. In Minnesota, you can get up to $5,200 for every child below 12 per year. Other local grants help with tuition fees, transportation, and other expenses.
3. Grants and Programs from Colleges
Aside from local and government grants, you can find individual colleges offering support to single parents. The grants often include housing, tuition, and childcare programs.
2. Weigh the Benefits of the Best Online Degree Programs for Single Mothers
If you’re hard-pressed dividing your time between college and your child, getting your degree online may be a good fit for you. Remember, stay away from diploma mills and shady for-profit online schools. Before you choose the best online degree program, do careful and complete research on the college’s background and reputation.
Getting your degree online promises multiple benefits to both you and your child. One of the main advantages is the flexible hours. Also, studying online gives you networking opportunities with students across the globe.
Here are the top 50 colleges offering distance learning.
3. Rely on Your Support System
Attending a college near your home comes with its advantages if you’re a single parent. If you’re close to home, you aren’t on your own. College students with families can get help with housework, childcare, and other duties. If you’re determined to complete your course, you can seek help from close friends, neighbors, and other concerned members of your support system.
Without a proper roadmap to help you deal with your hectic schedule, you’ll soon feel overwhelmed with all you have to do. The best thing you can do to avoid this is organize your life carefully. Here are three ways you can do it.
1. Prioritize What’s Important
Life is full of distractions. To stay on course towards graduation, you need to eliminate the aspects that slow you down. Here are the four basic priorities you should choose above everything else: family, work, school, sleep. Feel free to say no to other activities you know will slow you down, drain your energy, or put you off-schedule.
2. Make the Most of Your Study Time
As a parent, you won’t have many hours of free time to study. Because of this, make sure to do the best you can with the time you do have. For instance, learn memorization techniques for faster absorption of lessons. This will lessen your study time while making you a more efficient student.
Interested in learning study techniques that’ll boost your learning abilities? Achieve can help you with a library of resources and helpful hints.
3. Enjoy Study Time with Your Child
If your child is older and is already in school, you can set aside time in the evenings to study together. By making study time an enjoyable family experience, you strengthen your resolve to make it to graduation. Also, scheduling enough time to study becomes easier.
5. Consider Taking Credit-by-Exam
What if there is a way to earn credits without the commitment of a college course? Imagine being able to bypass lectures, final exams, and study sessions for related quizzes and tests? And what if it is more affordable than college courses?
The great news is this solution exists. It’s called credit-by-exam. What is credit-by-exam? It’s a set of exams that allow you to earn college credits across specific course subjects. For instance, there’s UExcel. UExcel allows you to take exams on over 30 subjects. When you pass one exam, you get three credits you can add to help you earn your degree faster.
What’s even better? Credit-by-exam saves you money. For instance, a three-credit exam will only cost you $85. On the other hand, earning three credits by taking a full college course can cost you up to $800.
Before attempting to take credit-by-exam, however, you need to be sure you’re ready. The exams cover broad subjects, so being familiar with how they work is a plus. One thing you can do is get help from Achieve. With Achieve, you can get 1:1 mentoring where you can ask any test-related question. You get practice tests, help with your goals, and a growing library of helpful hints and resources. Achieve is there to help ensure your time isn’t wasted when you take credit-by-exam.
Being a Single Parent in College: How to Overcome the Most Difficult Barriers on the Road to Graduation
As a single parent in college, your cap and gown on graduation day will not come easy. You’ll have to go through barriers that seem impossible to go through. You’ll have to think out of the box, be innovative, and persist to the end.
It’s good to know you’re not alone. When you get stuck along the way, Achieve can help you out of the rut and back on the road towards success.
For more information on how Achieve can help you, visit our website today.