School and the Single Parent: Why a College Degree Is Achievable

single parent

The definition of multitasking depends on the person you’re asking. In the modern workplace, someone may define multitasking as responding to emails while updating social media and scheduling an afternoon meeting.

For single parents – especially those who want to earn a college degree – multitasking has an entirely different meaning, one that may involve any combination of work, housekeeping, making breakfast, lunch, and dinner, playtime, reading before bedtime, and studying.

“When college starts, life doesn’t stop, which makes it especially challenging for a single parent to make time for studying and homework,” said Andrew Torpey, Enrollment Services Manager at Ashford University.

Without the support system that a spouse offers, Torpey added, single parents must rely on internal motivation to stay focused while being pulled in multiple directions.

Being a single parent in school is a challenge, but not an insurmountable obstacle.

School Uninterrupted

Ashford University graduate Shenedria Mills-Randall was 18 months into her BA in Organizational Management program when she learned she was pregnant. While she continued to attend classes during her pregnancy, time management became more difficult after her son was born.

“There were some times when I had to sacrifice not eating dinner that night or watch television so I could stay up and finish homework, because I knew my son would [only be asleep] for a few hours,” she said. “I dedicated every moment that I could to school; if I had free time at work I would log in and do my discussions.”

The sacrifice was worth it. Upon earning her degree in May 2015, Mills-Randall realized that her achievement could be an inspiration to other single parents hoping to achieve more.

“Many times people view single parents as not being able to do or accomplish as much as others, but I refused to fall into that stigma,” she said. “The greatest feeling and my happiest moment was watching my son cheer for me as I walked across the stage to receive my degree.”

According to Torpey, a single parent can get more out of a college education than just a degree.

“Education is about critical thinking and enlightenment, which are skills that undoubtedly help in raising children,” he said. “It’s good for their kids!”

The Single Grandparent

Janice Kent is proof that not all parenting situations are the same. The military veteran and mother of two sons decided to earn her degree at age 55, while she was raising her 14-year-old granddaughter.

“I really got stressed out trying to manage my time with school assignments and discussions,” she said. “Rearing a teenager can be challenging, especially when they have their own agenda and are not old enough to drive.

“I stayed up late at night to complete assignments and closed myself in on Sunday after church to read, work on my papers, and complete quizzes,” she added.

Kent graduated in May 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Supply Chain Management.

“Hard work and staying focused with your eyes on the end results will keep you motivated to complete what you started.”

Written by Jason R. Latham, Content Manager for Bridgepoint Education.


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