Returning to School as a Single Parent

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As a single parent, we dedicate our lives to giving our children the best. We work long hours, come home to cook and clean, read bed time stories, answer a trillion colorful questions, and then barrel into bed to catch every bit of sleep we can. All with a smile on our faces. Why? Because we love our children and we want them to grow up to be the best they can possibly be.

But could a lack of a college degree be sabotaging our efforts?

It’s no secret that in the United States, not having a degree can mean higher risk of unemployment and lower paying jobs which often results in a struggle to provide appropriate food, clothes, and shelter for our children. Most of us single parents know that affording these necessities are already difficult but without a college degree, it can seem nearly impossible!

Still, for a lot of us, that’s not the most important reason wanting to continue our education. Being a single parent involves modeling for our children the kind of person we want them to become. We want our children to see us being our best. Without a college education, it can feel as though we’re not quite showing them that.

But between work and caring for our children, which is a full-time job on its own, it can be difficult to find the time and resources to go back to school.

Because single mothers are amongst the poorest demographic in the U.S, many incentives and resources have come onto the scene to encourage single parents to do just that. Funding your education is usually the hardest part. Thankfully, there are tons of scholarships and grants specifically geared toward single parents.’s Single Parent page has a whole listing of them (State by State Listing of Scholarships for Single Parents)!

The second biggest obstacle for the majority of single parents returning to school is child care. While completing school online is a great way to work around this, it can be challenging for a lot of us. Focusing on an online lecture isn’t exactly easy with a screaming child.

For those that attend school on campus, an increasing number of colleges and universities now have onsite child care. Finding out if your prospective school provides this resource is usually as easy as visiting their website or giving them a call. For those that are eligible for the Pell Grant, there is also a program called Child Care Access that provides single parents with child care so that they can attend school. Even if child care is not available at your school of choice, programs like the Child Care and Development Fund that can help.

There is no doubt that returning to school as a single parent will be difficult. Juggling a full-time job, children, and school may seem like an insurmountable feat at times. But with the determination and strength we are known for, and a little bit of help, there’s no question that we can do better for our kids and ourselves. Not only will it mean having better jobs and more resources to provide for our children, but the opportunity to show them what it means to strive for something and make it; the opportunity for them to be as proud of us as we are of them every, single day.

So get out there and show the world how brilliant single parents really are! Happy studying!

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By Alecia Stanton of Expecting Parents Alliance of America

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