Questions you need to answer before going back to school as a single mom
For single moms thinking of going back to school, there are some very important questions that need to be answered before you take the plunge. The answers to these questions will determine if you are ready to return to school, or if you have some more work to do.
As a single mom going back to school, you will face a greater challenge than other students. It’s very important to reduce the number of potential obstacles you are likely to face, to ensure you can succeed in college.
Before we get into the questions you must answer before going back to school, let’s look at some other questions single moms have about going back to college.
HOW TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL AS A SINGLE MOM
Lots of single moms dream of going back to school, but many of them are stuck because they don’t know how to translate their dream into reality. So, how do you go back to school as a single mom? First, you decide why you want to go back to college, next you choose what you want to study, then you figure out a way to afford college. These are three of the most important steps you have to take if you are thinking of going back to school.
Okay, here are some other important questions you should ask if you are a single mom who is thinking of returning to college.
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1. GOING BACK TO SCHOOL AS A SINGLE MOM: WHAT IS YOUR MOTIVATION?
What’s the driving force behind your decision to go back to school?
In case you are wondering why this question is important, it’s because every year, many single moms go back to school, but a lot of them end up dropping out, for one reason or the other. As a single mom, I don’t want that to happen to you if I can help it.
Many single mothers going back to school are driven by a desire to improve their standard of living, earn more money, and provide financially for their families. These moms are driven to earn a college degree because, unfortunately, lots of single moms struggle to make ends meet.
Many of them earn only minimum wage, and many live in poverty. The desire to change your financial situation is a strong reason to earn a college degree. While nothing is ever guaranteed, the truth is, a college degree can lead to a higher-paying job, which in turn can help you to become financially stable.
So, before you start enrolling in college, think about your motivation for wanting to go back to school. How strongly do you feel about getting a degree?
Keep your motivation front and center of your mind because you are going to need it when you are in college and life feels so overwhelming.
2. WHAT RISKS AND SACRIFICES DOES GOING BACK TO SCHOOL DEMAND AND AM I READY FOR THEM?
I am a big believer in counting the cost before starting a new undertaking. While going back to school as a single mom may feel exciting, and the answer to all your problems, you must stop to think about the risks and sacrifices your decision will demand.
Single moms going back to school often have to make risky decisions or decisions that could impact them. These decisions shouldn’t be taken lightly because they can set you back and may be hard to fix. For example, giving up a job to return to college, cutting your hours at work, taking on huge amounts of student loans, not spending enough time with your kids, or housing decisions like moving in with family or taking in a roommate.
The decisions like the ones above, all involve taking some risks, so you have to consider the risks before making them.
Also, single moms going back to school will have to make some sacrifices to be able to juggle everything. For example, you may have to work full time while going to college. This means, you probably won’t ever have a time off or be able to go on vacation. Going back to college may increase your financial burden and cause you to live on an even tighter budget.
Think about all the risks and sacrifices you will need to make to go back to college. Can you accept those risks and sacrifices? Are you motivated enough to take on the challenges? Can you persevere through tough times?
These are questions you need to ask yourself. Be honest with yourself because being honest is the only way you can come up with an effective plan for returning to school.
To succeed in college as a single parent, you must reconcile your goal with how much risk you are willing to take, and how much sacrifice you are willing to make.
3. SINGLE MOM GOING BACK TO COLLEGE: DO YOU HAVE A PLAN?
Do you have a plan for achieving your goal? Going back to school is a good goal to have, but how will you get there?
One of the most common reasons dreams never come true is a lack of planning. If you are a single mom who has been talking about going back to school, without actually doing it, the reason might be a lack of planning. You can’t go back to college without a clear plan on how to do it, since there are so many factors involved in becoming a student while parenting.
A plan will help you to outline all the things you need to do to make college possible. With a plan, you can formulate effective strategies to address all the different aspects of returning to school as a single mom.
For your plan to be effective, it should be clearly defined, realistic, and achievable. In other words, you should be able to execute your plan. Without a plan, it’s difficult to address all the different issues that go with attending college.
So, take the time to map out a plan for going back to school. Outline all the things you have to do, and how you are going to do them. Identify potential challenges, then come up with strategies to address those challenges.
4. CAN YOU AFFORD COLLEGE?
One question that comes up often when a single mom decides to go back to school is “how do single moms pay for college?” This question is one of the reasons why many single moms can’t go back to college.
When I went back to school, one of my biggest challenges was how to survive financially. College is pretty expensive whether you are a full-time student or a part-time student. Before you enroll in any college, make sure you can afford it. I am not talking about just the first semester, I mean for the duration of your course.
Even if you don’t have all the money you need to cover your expenses, at the very least, you should have a plan, and know where the money will come from.
I have seen people drop out of college because they could no longer afford it. Unfortunately, you don’t get a refund if you drop out of college. And if you take out loans, you will be responsible for paying them back whether you graduate or not.
So, think about all your options for paying for college before you take the plunge. Consider how much money you will need, how you will find the money (if you don’t have it), and how you will pay it back (assuming you have to borrow some money).
5. DO YOU HAVE A RELIABLE BABYSITTER?
A babysitter can be the difference between success and failure for a single mom going back to college. If I had to worry about child care when I was in college, there’s no way I would have graduated. With a reliable babysitter, you can focus on your studies, and won’t have to worry about your children.
I know getting a reliable babysitter or reliable child care can be tricky and expensive, but it’s one of the most important things you need to sort out if you want to succeed in college.
Whether friends, family members, or a registered childcare center, a reliable babysitter is an invaluable resource for a single mom going to college.
6. DO YOU HAVE A SUPPORT NETWORK?
Do you have people (or someone) you can turn to for mentorship, motivation, and advice?
I will be very real with you. Going back to school without a support network sucks, but that’s what lots of single moms have to go through. Having a support network when you are a single mom working full time and going to school, can alleviate a lot of stress.
A support network can inspire and encourage you when you feel down. They can offer various kinds of help and prevent burnout. As a single mom, it’s very hard to go it alone, so if you have some people who are willing to support you, please accept their offer of help, and let them know how they can support you.
With that said, it’s possible for single mothers to go back to school without a support network. You will just have to be strong, find ways to motivate yourself and stay positive.
7. DO YOU HAVE THE SKILLS TO COMPLETE YOUR CHOSEN PROGRAM OF STUDY?
This one is pretty easy. We all have different skills, interests, and aptitudes. We are blessed with different talents, and that’s a good thing. So, before you enroll in a college program, make sure you know what your competencies are. Start by asking yourself:
- Do I have all the skills I need to complete this course?
- Do I need to add or learn some more skills to complete this program?
Of course, some skills can be learned while you are in college. For example, you don’t need to know how to give an injection or do a finger stick before you enroll in nursing school, since you will be taught those skills as part of your program.
But, there are some basic skills and knowledge you should have, to succeed in college. So, take some time to figure out your existing skills, and make sure you have what it takes to start and complete your chosen program of study.
Check out the posts below for some of the skills you need to succeed in college.
Related: 10 Most Important Skills Every Single Mom in College Should Have
8. ARE YOU DISCIPLINED ENOUGH TO STICK WITH YOUR GOAL
You want to know how to succeed in college as a single parent? You have to be disciplined!
Unlike students without kids, student parents have to deal with a lot of other responsibilities outside their academics. That is why completing college is so much harder for parents than non-parents.
However, all hope is not lost. Lots of single moms have graduated from college and there’s no reason why you can’t too. You just need to want it enough and be disciplined enough to stick with your goal.
There are days when you may feel completely exhausted, but you have to study for a test while tending to a sick child. As a single mom going back to school, you will face some hardships, and you may be tempted to just let things slide, but you really can’t do that.
You have to be self-disciplined to keep up the pace and do the hard work since that’s the only way you can go through college successfully.
9. HOW MUCH TIME WILL YOU NEED TO FINISH COLLEGE
Many single moms going back to school underestimate how much time they require to complete college. If you are going back to college, especially for a degree like nursing that has a selective admission process, you will have to figure out how long it will take you to complete the prerequisite courses, and also the actual nursing program.
Also, what if you are not admitted into the nursing program (or any other course) the first time you apply? I have a few friends this happened to. One of them was forced into a for-profit college which she later withdrew from because she could no longer afford it.
So, think carefully about how much time you will need to graduate from college, and if it’s time you can afford to spend. While the prospect of going back to college can be exciting, the reality can be completely different, especially if you don’t have a plan.
10. DO I HAVE ADEQUATE AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND TRANSPORTATION?
One of my biggest expenses, when I attended college, was housing. I had to move a couple of times in college in search of affordable housing. In my last year in college, I shared an apartment with another single mom, and I can tell you it wasn’t an easy experience.
While I moved during the summer holidays, it was still incredibly stressful and distracting. So, think about your housing situation and your access to good transportation before choosing a college to attend.
For out-of-state or out-of-county colleges, you may have to move or spend a lot of time commuting between your home, work, and school. These are all things you should consider before going back to school as a single mom.
Next steps for single moms going back to school
Single moms going back to school have a lot of things to think about. There are questions that will need to be asked and answered before you make the move. The answers to some of the questions above will determine if you will succeed in college or not.
Having a plan, the right motivation and a willingness to make sacrifices are some of the things that are required if you are going back to school as a single mom.
So, grab a piece of paper, go through these questions one at a time, and answer them. If you need to spend some time researching a particular question, do that. Keep answering these questions until you are satisfied with the answers.
As a single mom going back to college, the odds are stacked against you, but you can definitely succeed in spite of them. This post has lots of tips for going back to school as a single mom, so I hope you can put them to good use.
Are you a single mom who is thinking of going back to school? What’s your most pressing question?
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