Proven tips for graduating college as a mom despite all odds
If graduating college as a mom feels like an uphill battle, that’s because it is!
Did you know that student parents (especially single moms), struggle to finish college, or take a much longer time to do it? While this is sad, it’s also true. The odds are stacked against student parents, but you can beat the odds if you really put your mind to it.
So, if graduating college as a mom is a priority for you, here are some proven ways to do it.
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1. KNOW WHAT YOU ARE UP AGAINST
Lots of moms go back to college without understanding how difficult it is to be a student and a mom. These moms just want to pursue their dream, so they jump in head first.
While I admire their courage, we can’t ignore the fact that balancing motherhood and school is hard work, and you need more than courage to get to the finish line. But, having courage is a great first step and something to applaud. Many moms can’t summon up the courage to go back to school even though it’s one of their biggest dreams.
So, what are some of the things you are up against as a mom in college?
One of the biggest challenges moms in college face is time management. What I really mean is that one of the things that stop moms from completing college is time management. Some moms just can’t find a way to stay on top of every area of their life.
Now, let me give you a list of things you will struggle to find time for while in school.
- Spending time with your family/kids
- Studying and completing assignments
- Doing housework
- Time for yourself
I can go on, but I am sure you get the idea.
Finding the time to do it all is going to be one of your biggest challenges, so you have to prepare for it. It gets even worse if you work as well.
There’s a reason many moms walk away from school. It’s not that they feel like quitting, it’s because they just got to the point when everything became too much.
If you are reading this and you are only just starting college as a mom, you are in a good position because you are now aware of what you are up against as a mom in school.
Graduating college as a mom is all about identifying all the odds against you, then finding a way around them. So, assess your current circumstances, try to identify some potential obstacles, then figure out how you will work around them.
2. HAVE A CLEAR PLAN
Have a clear plan for each step of your college journey. And, by a clear plan, I don’t mean you should have all the answers, but your plan has to be something more than a vague idea of how you are going to get through college.
I love setting goals and coming up with a plan to achieve them. But, that doesn’t mean my plans are always effective. But, by having a plan, I know the direction I’d like to take even if I can’t guarantee the result.
I like to think of a plan as something that increases your chances of success. It doesn’t matter what you are trying to accomplish, having a plan means you are much more likely to succeed than having no plan.
So, what are some things you should plan for if you want to graduate college as a mom?
Here are a few things to consider.
- A financial plan. How to pay for college and how to survive financially while in college. Whether it’s through a job, student loans, financial aid, husband, parent, etc. You need a financial plan that covers the entire period you are in college.
- Childcare plan. Have a clear plan for child care. Whether it’s through a family member, childcare center, or a babysitter, make sure you have that covered.
- Have a plan for dealing with emergencies. Yes, they do happen quite often when you have kids, so have a plan for dealing with them.
- What to do if you fall behind in college or you are struggling academically. No one plans to fall behind in college, but it can happen. So, have a plan for catching up and getting yourself back on track if that happens.
- You need a plan for studying and doing schoolwork so you can stay on top of your schoolwork.
- A plan for staying healthy.
- You need a plan for staying motivated. It’s so easy to lose motivation when you are overwhelmed. So, have a plan for motivating yourself and staying positive.
- Keeping up with housework including laundry, cleaning, and meals.
- You need a plan for managing stress. How will you deal with stress?
Have a plan for anything you are concerned about. If something is important enough for you to worry about it, come up with a plan to address it or fix it, so it’s no longer an issue.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to plan for when you are a mom in college. The good news is that with a plan, you will be one step ahead of any potential problem and you are unlikely to get derailed.
That’s how you boost your chances of finishing college.
Related: Falling Behind in College? Here’s How to Catch Up
Related: How to Stay on Top of Housework (For Busy College Moms)
3. GRADUATING COLLEGE AS A MOM: HAVE A PLAN FOR YOUR CLASSES
I decided to make this a separate heading because I think it deserves a bit more attention.
One of the first and most important tips for graduating from college is to choose the right major. The right course is the one you are interested in completing and have the required skills for.
Your major doesn’t necessarily have to be your passion or a lifelong dream, but you should have some interest in it, but more importantly, you should be interested in completing it.
So, what if you are already in college for something you are not interested or passionate about?
Well, you have two options. Pivot and start over, or complete it and go for something else. I am afraid you are going to have to figure out this one yourself.
Now, back to talking about having a plan for your classes.
When you are a mom in college, it’s imperative that you have a strategy for your classes if you want to graduate. What I mean is that you have to know and have a plan for the following:
- How many credit hours you need to graduate.
- How many classes you have to take.
- What classes to take.
- The order in which to take your classes.
- Prerequisite or corequisite classes.
- Classes you can test out of to accelerate your degree.
- Optional or alternative classes.
- What classes are available in a particular semester (for example, some classes are only available in spring or fall, and not in the summer).
Before I continue, let me say that I know for some majors, you don’t have a choice of what classes to take or the order in which to take them (that was the case in my nursing program). If you are in that situation, there’s not much you can do, but you can still have a plan for the other things I listed above.
Now, if you have control of your schedule, then take the time to create a plan for your classes. Here’s what you can do.
- Decide how many classes to take each semester.
- Determine what semester to take a particular class or classes.
- Choose the best format (online, hybrid, on-campus), and the best times.
- Decide which order you want to take your classes.
As you can see, it’s possible to plan out your classes from start to finish. When you have a plan for your classes, it’s easy to know what to do, how you can best prepare for your classes, and how long it would take you to complete college.
You can always go back and tweak your plan if things change. For example, a class becomes unavailable or a particular teacher is no longer teaching a course.
So, go ahead and plan out your classes. Map it out, and put it somewhere you can see it. Refer to it at the end or beginning of a new semester to help you plan your classes. With a plan, you can avoid taking excessive or unnecessary classes that delay graduation.
You can use a planner to map out your classes as long as you remember to look at it from time to time.
4. PLAN FOR YOUR FIRST YEAR OF COLLEGE
The first year of college is the most important one because it can decide your fate.
Lots of student moms never go beyond the first year of college (some don’t get past the first semester) because they couldn’t overcome all the obstacles they faced. If you are just starting college, it’s really crucial that you have a solid plan for your first year of college.
I know I have talked a lot about planning and all the things you should plan for, but I need to stress the importance of making it through the first year of college. If you don’t want to be forced out of college or spend many years in school, then take this very seriously.
A lot of things get overlooked in the excitement of going back to college as a mom, but here are some things you shouldn’t overlook if you want to graduate college as a mom.
1. HAVE A CLEAR PLAN FOR BALANCING COLLEGE, FAMILY, AND WORK (IF APPLICABLE)
Lots of problems can arise when you juggle college and other commitments. For example, struggling to pass your classes or maintaining a good GPA.
Many moms find themselves facing academic probation because they are unable to keep up with their classes. So, come up with a good plan to address this issue.
2. KNOW WHAT YOU NEED TO GRADUATE EARLY
If you don’t mind how long it takes you to graduate, then you can ignore this part. However, if you plan to graduate early or on time, you must know what you need to do including how many credit hours to take each semester.
But, please be mindful. Don’t overburden yourself by signing up for more classes than you can conceivably handle.
3. DON’T GET STUCK IN DEVELOPMENTAL CLASSES OR THE SAME CLASSES
Every year, many moms return to college after a long absence. Many of them have to start with developmental courses in English or math (or both). Unfortunately, that’s usually the end of the road for some of them.
If you are going back to college and starting with developmental classes in math or English, make sure you have a plan for progressing to college-level classes.
I know some people find math very hard, but there are lots of resources to learn math. Don’t fall into the trap of repeating the same classes over and over until you become frustrated and drop out.
Seek help early and have a plan for progressing from one class to the other (especially if you are starting with developmental classes).
Finally, if you are a first-generation mom in college, seek out help. Learn how to navigate college life. Read books and articles. Join forums or groups for moms in college and learn everything you can about college life, taking classes, and much more.
Find out all the resources that are available to you in school and make use of them. Don’t be shy. You are fighting for your life and future, so go all in.
Related: How to Survive Your First Semester of College as a Mom
5. YOU NEED PERSISTENCE AND DETERMINATION TO GRADUATE COLLEGE AS A MOM
When all is said and done, whether you graduate from college or not boils down to how willing you are to fight and push through. Talk to moms who made it through college and they would tell you that they simply refused to give up.
Persistence and determination are sometimes all that is required to put you over. Yes, you will face lots of obstacles, some days you will hate your life, but at the end of the day, if you don’t quit, you are going to be doing the walk for your graduation.
So, learn to fight for your dream. Keep pushing on, take a break if you need to refresh yourself. Keep your why front and center of your mind, and get all the help you possibly can, because you will need it!
Next steps for graduating college as a mom
Graduating from college can feel so far away for many moms, but if you keep plugging away, you will certainly get there.
I have shared some proven tips for graduating college as a mom, so if you have been looking for a road map to help you navigate college, I am sure this post can provide that. Go through the tips and pick the ones that are useful to you, and apply them.
To your success!
Are you new to college or close to graduating? What’s your biggest struggle?
Related mom and student articles
Time Management for Moms in College: How to Balance it All
How to Create an Effective Student Mom Schedule
How Many Classes Should I take My First Semester of College?