Starting School as a Single Parent

starting school single parent

Here’s a scenario many single parent students may recall: You’ve finished your workday, picked up your child (or children) from daycare, cooked dinner, supervised homework and playtime, read a story, and turned out the light. Now you’re on the couch or at the dining room table thinking about your next move. Will it be another night in front of the television, or will you get back to your research and make a decision about going back to school?

When you’re a single parent, you have so little “me” time. It’s difficult to imagine sacrificing those precious minutes to do more work. But if you focus on the future and not the moment, the choice becomes easier.

“Time management is a challenge that plagues all college students,” said Ashford University Enrollment Services Manager Andrew Torpey, who added that the process of starting school can be “overwhelming” for single parents.

Torpey recommended parents take the following steps before classes begin:

  1. Find a structured study time that works around your child’s schedule

  2. Communicate with your child about your decision to start school

  3. Create a daily to-do list

  4. Be open to asking for help

That last point is critical. While there are a number of websites, guides, and blogs to help you choose a college, single parents lacking an immediate support system need someone to talk to during the application process, and after they begin school.

According to Torpey, that’s when the admissions office can play a major role in that student’s life.

“Admissions advisors are trained to be experts in process and people,” he said. “[They] are encouraged to provide flexibility when available, but are also empowered to help students seek out solutions and problem-solving issues that get in the way.”

Torpey recalled a scenario in which a single mother pursuing a career in the education industry struggled with attending school in her community because the schedule didn’t align with her childcare and work priorities. When she researched online universities, she got in touch with the admissions team at Ashford University.

“The admissions representative created a plan with her,” he said. “Despite the obstacles and uncertainty, they created a plan which will allow the student to enroll in August 2015.”


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

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