The idea of returning back to school was not an easy one for me. I had a full time job with benefits, after work I would pick the kids up do homework, cook dinner, make sure baths were taken, and then it was time to get to bed. We would wake up the next day and start the process all over again. How on earth could I find the time to go to school in there, much less study? I didn’t want to or better yet couldn’t afford to quit my job. I still had to pay the bills. My second issue was the question in my mind of would I really complete it? I had gone “back to school” so many times only to quit anywhere from four weeks into the process to just before final exams. I was notorious for this and I wondered if I was capable of ever really finishing it. Well, with age comes wrinkles and low and behold a little maturity. I decided that if I was going to make the effort to go then I was going to complete it even if it was only one semester! So, where there is a will there is a way. I did not quit my job; I went to school at night after work. My parents watched the little ones and I went. It was hard but I completed my first semester that spring and have returned every semester since.
If you have the will power and drive, it can be done. Here are some helpful tips to get you started. ..
1. Community college
I recommend to begin here. Put your ego to the side and realize that your degree will not come from this place only your first two years of education (If you are striving for a four-year degree). Look into an associate of arts or sciences depending on what you want to do. There has been some legislation passed that certain classes taken at this level has to (by law) transfer to any four year university. In other words, if you take the “right” classes a four year university is forced to accept them. You are not required to retake these courses. (Colleges were forcing many students to re-take courses they had already taken and passed they were trying to make more $$$$). The main reason I recommend beginning here is that tuition is often 1/15 of what it would be at four year university. The savings are huge!
Buy your books used! Put in the 20 minutes it takes to write the names and numbers off the bulletin board and call the person who has just finished taking the course who is selling her books. Often books in the book store will cost anywhere from $100.00 – $250.00 this is big money. Buying it used will usually cost $40.00-$60.00 (a huge savings).
3. Pick a major
I advise you to take an associate of arts or sciences degree if you are planning on attending a four year university. When you transfer into your four year college you will be a junior and can begin upper level classes. In other words if you have no idea what you want to major in then take the two year route to figure out what you like ,what interests you and what you are good in. Armed with this information you will not waste time taking classes then changing your major. It is much more efficient.
4. Taking the test
Your college will give you placement test. Do as well on this as you can. I did not do so well on my math portion and could not begin at the 101 college level. This translates to having to take courses (a lot of courses) just to learn the basics in order to prepare me for the 101 classes. I did not want to waste this time in 038 courses that will NOT transfer. So, I went to the library and checked out books for math. In my own spare time I read and taught myself the basics. All the formulas and principals that I had forgotten or never learned. Then I re -took the placement test, for a fee of $5.00; I scored high enough where I could begin in college-level math. This saved me three semester’s worth of work, classes, money and time.
Visit this site www.fafsa.ed.gov/before001.htm fill out the information and apply for a grant. This is based on income. I received FAFSA grant money the entire time in college so far. Without it there is no way I could have afforded to attend.
6. Contact your local Social Services
Some states offer free daycare or money for daycare for a parent who is attending college. Use this help if it is offered. Furthermore, some even pay for gas money, books etc!
7. More help
If you need more assistance there are many organizations out there that offer assistance to the single mom!!! Visit this site for more grants, scholarships, and awards! Please pick up the phone and call your local community college financial aid office and also your social services office – Ask what is out there in your community for you!
I hope this gets you started on your career path. It is not easy and it can be done. One statistic I found was that only 1% of single mothers finish their bachelors degree – LET’S PROVE THEM WRONG…ONE MOTHER AT A TIME.