Going back to pursue your degree as an adult poses its own set of challenges. Going back to school when you’re a single mother can be exponentially more difficult. However daunting it may seem, though, it’s certainly possible. With some extra planning and a bit of know-how, you can achieve the degree you need to get ahead and do it on your terms.
Here’s how to make it work.
1. Do it on your time.
Today’s diverse offering of flexible degree programs is a blessing when your free time is at a minimum. Online universities in particular let you schedule your studies around your existing responsibilities and routine. Plus, you have the added benefit of being able to log in day or night, on weekends or during the week, or even on the go. By scheduling your studies and schoolwork around your existing career and children’s commitments, you can reach your goals– and potentially do it sooner than you think.
2. Research scholarships and grants for parents.
It goes without saying a single mom needs to get through her education without mortgaging her future. That’s why you should look into what financial aid opportunities may be available as well as grants and scholarships as part of your research process. In particular, look for scholarship and grant opportunities specifically geared toward women in certain groups, such as those aged 50-plus, single moms and/or non-traditional adult students who find themselves at transitional points in life.
3. Know that it takes a village.
For single mothers, it goes without saying that a support network is integral — especially when considering the prospect of returning to school. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Rally your family, friends and neighbors, whether it’s for carpooling, childcare or Internet access in a pinch. Additionally, don’t rule out your university as a source of support: many have dedicated student advisors and established groups specifically for single mothers. These can be a great resource in terms of camaraderie, tips, encouragement and support.
4. Make it a family activity.
Kids are sponges when it comes to learning. And since they have homework to do, too, consider doing it at the same time. It’ll not only spark conversation but also set a positive example. What’s more, it’s an opportunity for you and the kiddos to support each other — and that’s a win-win.
5. Take time to recharge.
Sure, you’re Supermom, but even you have limits. Unless you give yourself permission to regroup and regain your strength and mental stamina, it’s impossible to sustain the rigorous schedule required of a juggling your life, studies and career. Besides, exhaustion makes it difficult to retain information. Although it may seem counterintuitive to take breaks and treat yourself when you’re busy taking care of everyone else, you need to — regularly and as a priority. Sometimes, that means taking an afternoon off to spend at the movies or with a good book or simply getting an extra hour of sleep.