College Tips For Single Moms
Going to college as a single mom can be a big challenge. But it’s completely possible. If you’re pregnant or a single mom and you’re thinking about college or if you’re in college and you find yourself unexpectedly pregnant, you can finish school. It may seem overwhelming at times, but it’s do-able!
Of course, college looks different when you’re a parent than it does for a traditional college student. You might be juggling a job, childcare, classes, and studying. You may have to squeeze homework and studying into nap-times. And you may feel like you’re learning every life lesson all at once — how to be a parent, how to be a student, how to adult.
If you’re a single mom and a student, here are a few tips that may help:
- Ask for help. You don’t have to do this alone. If you don’t already have a support network, create one. Make friends with your neighbors or at the library or at church or in a mommy-and-me group that meets once a month. Seek out other students who are parents so that you can help each other. You can be strong and independent and still ask for help. We’re made for community, and you’ll need a community of friends or family to help you do this.
- Take advantage of available money. There are grants and scholarships designed with single moms in mind. That’s free money you won’t have to pay back! Talk to your college financial aid office, and they’ll give you all the information you need. You also may qualify for the federal WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program to help pay for food for you and your little one. There’s a Pregnancy Assistance Fund program through the federal government which provides support services for your health, your child’s health, your education, and some practical things like diapers and baby equipment. And some college scholarships even include money for transportation and childcare. If you want to get a degree, there are resources to help you pay for it.
- Write down goals. And look at them often. There will be discouraging days, so having a written reminder of why you’re working so hard may help you get through the hard days. Writing daily or weekly goals that you can check off as you accomplish will also motivate you to stay on track for the big goals.
- Be organized. Live by lists and schedules. Daily and weekly to-do lists will help make sure nothing falls through the cracks. And schedules will assure you that there is a time for everything. So when you’re playing with your baby or having coffee with a friend, you don’t have to feel guilty because it’s scheduled in and homework and study times are also scheduled in.
- Practice saying no. You can’t do everything, and you especially can’t do everything right now. In order to prioritize your child and school, you’ll have to say no to other things. Remember – there are seasons of life, and for this season, your yeses are very limited. If it isn’t helping you take care of your child, complete your degree, or maintain your own mental health, it’s probably a no for now.
- Communicate with your professors. At the very beginning of each semester, talk with your professors and let them know that you’re a single parent. Your professors are human beings capable of compassion, and most of them want to help you succeed. As long as you aren’t taking advantage of the situation or using your circumstances as an excuse to get a free pass, your professors will probably work with you and be very understanding. And talk with your college student health office too. They’ll help communicate with your professors and provide lots of practical support for you.
- Take care of yourself. You can’t take very good care of your baby if you aren’t taking care of you. Schedule in time for healthy meals and exercise — you can go for a walk or a run while pushing a stroller or do some exercises on your living room floor while playing with your child. Remember – food, exercise, sleep, and friendship are not luxuries. You need these things to be emotionally and physically healthy.