Going to university can be daunting at any time. Spending extended periods of time away from home and everything you know takes a bit of time to get used to, and the workload can be intense. But if you’re a parent, all of this is magnified. Maybe you already went to uni as a young adult but want to expand on your education with a masters degree – or want to try your hand at something completely knew. Or perhaps you’ve never been to a university in your life before, and now feel ready to return to education. After all, going to university isn’t essential for a job – apprenticeships and simply working your way up are also viable options. But if you have you heart set on a certain career, chances are having a degree will help you get it quicker. So how exactly should you go about getting that degree when you’re also a single parent? Read on for some ideas that can show you how you can be a great mum and also a successful student.
Consider which university to go to
In an ideal world, your perfect university would be in your current city, or at least a short commute away. Having to move your entire life elsewhere for university can be stressful, and could potentially have a detrimental effect on your children. But, university is expensive, and settling on a course you don’t really want to do just because it’s nearby may not make it worth your while. Instead you might want to consider doing a degree through the Open University, where you can do the majority of it from home and engage in flexible hours. Or, if that isn’t an option for you, speak to other universities about your situation and see what they can do. If there is a university nearby but you can only commute there two days a week, see if they can send you your work via email for the rest of the week. Much of this depends on the specific people running the course, so it is worth an ask.
Choose your accommodation wisely
As a parent, it’s fairly unlikely that you are going to want to stay in university halls alongside a bunch of freshers. Shipping your children off to their grandparents for three years also isn’t feasible for most people. With this in mind, it can often be difficult finding a balance between having somewhere child-friendly to live, and being close to your uni. If you are moving elsewhere for uni and need somewhere friendly to stay, why not consider homestay accommodation? This is also perfect for if your children move schools later in life and you want them to stay in a safe, relaxed environment.
Look into financial help
As a student parent, you may be eligible for financial aid from the government. As we all know, going to university doesn’t come cheap these days, so it is definitely worth looking into what you may be entitled to. You will probably be able to claim a childcare grant, providing your children are under 15. This amounts to £150 per week if you have one child, and £257 if you have two or more. You also could be entitled to a parent’s learning allowance, which you can spend however you wish.
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