Bottles & Brains: Pursuing Education as a Single Parent

Someone once asked billionaire investor Warren Buffett what he should invest in if he could only invest in one thing. He replied, "...invest in yourself."

I am a huge believer in education and in bettering yourself through ongoing learning. I was only one semester into graduate school when I found out I was pregnant with my first son. Was I scared? Was I worried about how I would afford daycare and diapers? Did I have doubts about how to juggle an education, a career and a family? Of course! I felt completely overwhelmed, but I never once considered giving up. I knew that furthering my education would mean a better life for me and a better life for my family. And I was determined to endure the sleepless nights now, for the payoff down the road. 

I took on a full time job a few months after the pregnancy shock and got to work building myself up professionally, while continuing to go to school full-time in the evenings. At nights, I worked as a bartender to bring in extra money. When my son was born later that fall on a Friday afternoon, I had just a few short days to rest before taking a school exam that following Monday. Hey, nobody said it was gonna be easy. But one year later, as I stood holding my son on graduation day while I received my Masters degree, I felt like I was on top of the world. Being a full-time student, a full-time mommy, and holding down a full-time job served to show me that anything was possible. And from that moment on, I have been, and will continue to be, unstoppable.

Read more books, ask more questions, listen more closely. Knowledge is power. Value and invest in yourself. 

If you think going back to school as a single parent is impossible, you're wrong. There are always ways to make it work. 

See the full infographic here:

Being a single parent is a huge reason why some put off going back to school. But there are ways to make it work. Here are a few tips: 

Have a close friend or relative who can watch your children if you get behind or overwhelmed with any classes. Being able to manage time and stick to a schedule is very important. If you are able to drop any extraneous obligations that are voluntary, you may be able to make your schedule (and your life) a bit easier. Also it’s terrific to have portable study tools, like flash cards, so that you can study on the go. There are 4.8 million college students raising children. 43% of these are single mothers, while 11% are single fathers. In fact, students with children tend to have a higher GPA than those without. Use that as a motivational factor the next time you feel yourself getting jealous that your single classmates have more free time than you. 

There are 4.8 million college students raising children. 43% of these are single mothers

Let's talk about the busy woman who is working full-time. After working a 9-5 and taking care of average household chores, you’re exhausted and can’t imagine taking the time for school. It can be done, though, and there are a few tips for success, like expecting a few sleepless nights. They will be worth it once you have that degree. Make strict, achievable goals so that you don’t end up taking courses you don’t need. Be sure you are choosing a degree to move you forward in your career so that you can expect a pay raise or a promotion. Don’t expect online classes to be easier than traditional college, in fact, sometimes it can be more challenging. 62% of students believe virtual learning allows students to work full time while attending school, but in reality only 27% of students are employed full time.

The financially struggling student is another reason why some decide to make online courses work for them. While virtual studies allow you to save money on commuting and parking costs, there are a few other tips that will help save you money. See if you can borrow any necessary software and rent used textbooks. If you’re saving money on electricity or Wi-Fi, you can find a cafe or restaurant that offers it for free. You can also do your homework on your laptop, tablet, or phone. Now is now the time to spend extra money buying fancy equipment that you don't need if your tablet or laptop will do the job. On average, those with a bachelor’s degree make about $1,101 per week versus the $668 that high school graduates bring in.

No matter what obstacles you may have, there is a way to make online college work for you. There were more than 21 million students enrolled in distance learning in 2012. More than 2 and a half million were enrolled exclusively in online courses. 89% of public four-year institutions offer online courses, while 91% of two year colleges offer online courses.

Remember, the most important thing you can invest in, is yourself. 

See full infographic here

This post was shared courtesy of Brittany Thompson from Affordable Online Colleges. Their mission is to help students (and single parents) make more informed decisions about their future.