More than one in five college students is a parent, the Institute for Women's Policy Research reports. Of those students, 70% are mothers and 30% are fathers. Single moms going back to school represent more than two in five student parents.
For mothers and fathers alike, going back to school requires a unique support system to balance family, academics, and, sometimes, work. Balancing these priorities isn’t always easy. This article offers five tips for student parents going back to school—and hopefully assures you that your decision to continue your education will be worth it.
1. Know Why You’re Going Back to School
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the higher the level of education, the greater the earning potential and the lower the unemployment rate. You may be going back to school for a number of reasons, some of which may include:
- Better career options
- Increased skills and knowledge
- To set an example for your children
Whatever your reason for going back to school, it’s important to know why you’re pursuing a degree while parenting. Understanding your “why” will help when balancing your priorities becomes difficult. Intention setting or writing down your goals may be helpful exercises as you explore your “why.”
2. Ask for Support
Earning a college degree is a big undertaking, one that’s difficult to do without support. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family for support while you’re in school. Communicate your needs, and know that support comes in many forms—babysitting, patience, and understanding, to name a few.
Also look into the academic support networks offered by your school. Student Advisors can provide tremendous support and connect you with academic success resources tailored for student parents. Check out Resource Center: Help for Parents Who Work and Go to College for additional support tips, as well as child care, blogs, and other resources.
3. Be Conscious of Time Management
Your child needs you. Your studies need you. Your employer needs you. You’re busy. Even if you weren’t going to school, you’d still be juggling a number of priorities—carpools and pickups, dinner, cleaning, bills, after-school activities, and more.
So how do you manage your time now that you have your own academic responsibilities? Carve out time for all your commitments, and protect it. Time management will be crucial to your academic success and school-work-life balance. Consider some of these time management tips and resources, and establish a routine that works for you.
4. Research Scholarships or Grants for Parents
Going back to school isn’t just a time commitment; it’s a financial commitment. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 86% of college students receive financial aid. Luckily, there are plenty of scholarships for student parents. Below are some financial aid resources to help you find scholarships and grants. Apply for Federal Student Aid first to see if you qualify for the Pell Grant or another federally funded grant.
Student Parent Financial Aid Resources
>> Read Our Article: 10 Tips to Get a Scholarship for College
5. Set Boundaries With Family
Support isn’t the only thing you need from your family—you also need boundaries. Setting boundaries with family will help you preserve your self-care and stay focused on your studies.
Let your family know how they can respect your education. This may include giving you quiet time in the mornings or setting study hall hours when you can’t be disturbed. Do you have children in school? Maybe you can make school a family activity by completing assignments together or quizzing each other on what you learned at school.
Make School Work on Your Time
At Purdue University Global, 63% of our students have a child or other dependent. We understand the unique needs of student parents balancing work, school, and family life. That’s why we offer flexible, convenient online education that works on your time. Are you ready to go back to school? Request more information today.