Being a single mother and attending any educational establishment can be challenging for time, money, and ability to focus. Before you enrol in a college or university either brick and mortar or online you should consider what issues will arise during the years it will take to achieve your educational goals.
Send for information on the various programs and options in a field of study you would like to work in. Maybe attend a career planning seminar to get a better feel for how to evaluate your needs to perform well in a certain industry. Almost all campuses offer an open house or have an outreach director to help you decide if the school is the correct format for you.
Check with your chamber of commerce, small business administration, and library for any information on how to get scholarships or any other reimbursement programs available to you as a single mother. Not to sound racist but if there is a program for a specific race, age, or marital status and you fit that detail take advantage of it. There are literally thousands of companies and government funded organizations that assist various people based on race, sex, age, or marital status. An example might be the Daughter’s of the Revolution. It is designed for women who are able to trace their heritage back to the revolutionary period. They also have great scholarships for members.
If daycare costs will hurt you, check on daycare assistance from Department of Human Services. Another option is find a local in home daycare that might be willing to trade you some services. Maybe you could work as a volunteer during certain hours in trade for a discount or for a few free days of care. If you have a speciality they can use such as if you have bookkeeping experience you might offer to do their books in trade for some free hours of care. You can also consider getting your earned income credit as advanced EIC on your paycheck to help cover the cost. Have a friend in school too? Exchange babysitting if possible. Schedule courses at different times to make this possible.
Once you get into the school of your choice then participate in as many activities as you can it will pay off. Make friends while you are there. Look for events that you can take your children with you and still get some extra credit. Take all the extra credit you can to buffer for what you might score low on when kids are sick or emergencies arise.
Join like minded clubs for your study or for some interest you have. For example where I attended there was a large group for single parents. Although it wasn’t single mothers it was a good place to bounce ideas and suggestions around to make your experience better for you. If you paid attention sometimes you learned great ways to make things easier for you from the classmates.
If the father has never been there and/or family over the years don’t expect them to come running now. Don’t waste a lot of energy fighting over it. Politely ask once for help and if that doesn’t work let it go. If you spend an hour on the phone arguing about why he can’t watch the kids that is an hour you could have been finding a better babysitter. Use common sense in these matters not emotions because more than once they will steer you wrong and waste your precious time.
Self help books are ok to a point but don’t rely on them like they are everything you need to do. While the overall situation is the same the particulars are more likely different. It is like being able to relate to a story by a friend but you see you both reacted very differently.
Meet with a counselor for your degree often and be sure you are on the right track. No wasted classes that do not count towards your degree or your goals. Be sure your adviser/counselor knows your specific goals so they can give you the best advice. Find out what courses are only offered once in a while and get them while you can. You cannot imagine how often someone has to come back for one class because they missed it the first go around.
Your goals should include at least five years to get you beyond the classroom and into the career path you want. Take an internship – it might make the difference of getting a job or not after school. If the school department you are in has a mentor-ship program then you should take it.
Enjoy your time as a student because you won’t ever be in this moment again. While it is business be sure to make the best of it while you can. This might be hard but if you take advantage of all the wonderful programs surely you can get through it with flying colors.
Though I am married now I was a single mother raising four children during more than four years of college/university. I survived and if that is all you do I sincerely feel you will be much better for having done so.