Twenty-six percent of undergraduate students are parents of dependent children, according to a 2017 report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, and two-thirds of student parents work at least 20 hours or more a week while in college. Of course, on top of work and school, these students spend untold hours fulfilling parental duties.
To say it is challenging is somewhat of an understatement.
But there’s a payoff: Earning a college degree can help you advance your career and find more meaning in your work, which is valuable to you and your family. The following resources can help set your college journey up for success.
Federal and state financial aid plus grants and scholarships can help offset the costs of school. Check out these helpful sites:
Look into these resources for help with childcare:
- Child Care Aware of America: This organization provides a free hotline for childcare resource help and lists state-by-state resources for families. Families in which at least one parent is in the military may be eligible for childcare fee assistance programs.
- Child Care and Development Fund: Part of Benefits.gov, the Child Care and Development Fund offers assistance to low-income families who need childcare due to work and school.
- Childcare grants: Working parents may be eligible for childcare grants, either from the college they're attending or from the state government. Browse programs based on the state you live in on Benefits.gov.
- Head Start: Head Start programs are school readiness programs for children (from infancy to age 5) from low-income families.
- Office of Child Care: The Office of Child Care is part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Each state has an individual office you can contact for assistance.
The following sites offers tips and tools on everything from parenting, finding work-life balance, and making sound financial decisions:
- ALERT: Adult Learning and Education Research and Trends: Published by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, this blog covers topics such as adult students and financial aid, how higher education can better serve adult learners, and child care services for adult students.
- The Balance Careers: This site offers comprehensive career and money tips, including creating work-school-life balance.
- Working Mother Magazine: This site is dedicated to helping women find balance between their personal and professional lives.
- The College Investor: If you’re dealing with existing student loan debt or if you’re considering refinancing your student loans, this site is especially helpful.
- Mint Life: As the blog for the budgeting app Mint.com, this site is a wonderful resource for people looking to cut costs in their day-to-day lives.
- NerdWallet: This blog offers guidance and tools to help users make smart money decisions.
Time Management Tools
Managing your time wisely is an essential skill to have as a working college student and parent. The following time management methods can help:
- The Pomodoro Technique: The Pomodoro Technique is helpful for studying and schoolwork. It involves setting a timer for 25 minutes and immersing yourself in work with laser-like focus, then taking a break to recharge. Similarly, research from DeskTime found working for 52 minutes then taking a 17-minute break may be highly effective.
- Time chunking: Time chunking is a time management tool that involves breaking down your responsibilities and chunking them into time frames in which you will achieve them.
Social support is essential for staying well-balanced amid varying responsibilities. Strengthen your social support network as a working parent and college student.
- Family: Entering college isn't just an adjustment for you—it's also one for your children. Talk to them about why you're going to school and the benefits it will provide your family. Set boundaries at home that enable you to study and focus on schoolwork. If you're married or in a relationship, talk with your partner about the support you need. Show gratitude for your family when they help.
- Friends: Maintaining friendships can be difficult when you're spread so thin, but social connections are vital for your mental health. Spend time with friends, even if it's getting together once a month or staying connected via social media. Your friends may not fully understand the challenges you're experiencing, but they can provide support when you need it.
- Stress management techniques: Meditation, aromatherapy, journaling—read more about these and other tips on stress management for college students.
Earn a College Degree Online at Purdue University Global
Purdue University Global salutes working parents who are heading back to school to attain their educational goals. Our innovative online programs offer flexibility to study on the go, from any device you're on. You can study on your lunch break or before or after work, and work on assignments wherever you have a connected device.
With more than 175 online programs to choose from, you can learn the skills to enter a new field or advance in your current career. To learn more about Purdue Global, request information here.