Starting your family and earning your degree are major life accomplishments, but it can be hard to give them both the attention they require. Trying to be a college student and parent at the same time is a challenge that requires dedication and balance to overcome. Many undergraduates are also parents, so as hard as the challenges you face may seem, you aren’t alone. Student parents can find a way to juggle their home and school life and even continue working with the right attitude and resources. You may have recently had a baby, or you could be considering returning to school after beginning your family. To ensure you are able to be both fully present for your child and get the most out of your education, here are a few things to remember.
Recognize the Stress
Parents are pros at ploughing full-steam ahead and acting like they have everything together when they feel like their world is falling apart. They learn how to put on a brave face for their kids, partners, friends and family. They don’t want people to believe they’re struggling because, in their eyes, struggling as a parent is a sign of weakness. Cast aside the belief that you are not allowed to be stressed as a parent. There is a lot of pressure to perform in the many roles throughout your life, including parent, student and employee. By acknowledging stress, you instantly become more capable of working with it rather than trying to suppress it.
Take Advantage of Student Services
Whether it’s on-campus childcare, career advising or a counselor, make sure you utilize every form of support at your disposal. Single parents are especially prone to trying and take on everything by themselves, but there’s no shame in seeking help and making your life easier. Colleges are equipped with a variety of departments to help students succeed, no matter what challenges they’re facing. Be honest about your needs, and make sure you go out of your way to get the most out of the education you’re paying for.
Look for Financing Options
Get on top of your student loans and figure out how you can lower the cost of tuition while putting more money in your pocket. Research how much you can borrow for student loans, and look for scholarships for parents and single mothers and fathers. Even being employed while in college can qualify you for many different types of grants, and your employer may offer tuition reimbursement. Taking out more in student loans could also help alleviate some of the struggle to make ends meet while you’re in school. In some cases, it may even allow you to quit a second job or side-gig and focus solely on your education and parenting.
Consider an Online Program
If you are currently struggling to make time for your family due to work and school, consider transferring to an online program. Your school may already offer distance education, but if not, there are plenty of accredited universities that offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees entirely online. Flexible and customizable, online learning may free up space and allow you to study on your own terms. Doing homework while the kids play is a lot easier than rushing to make an early morning class or missing dinner because you have an evening lecture.