Being a teen parent presents challenges for everyone in that situation. Going to college does as well. Doing both means that you’re facing additional challenges compared to your peers, but others have done it before, and you can too. The tips below can help you achieve this.
Write Down Your Reasons
In any endeavor that takes time, you’re likely to feel discouraged. One of the ways to stave off this discouragement is to write down all the reasons that you want to accomplish your goal. For getting a college degree, those might include being able to pursue your career of choice, making more money, and creating a better life for your child. It’s common to lose sight of these goals when you’re struggling, and being able to refer to this list can help strengthen your resolve and move forward.
Many see the cost of college as one of the main reasons it’s so difficult to attend. Fortunately, there are several options for paying for school, starting with federal aid. However, this is usually not enough to cover all your costs, and most students need to turn to private loans as well. The problem that many encounter at this stage is that you can’t qualify on your own, or if you do qualify, you’re offered only high interest rates.
While you may already be a parent, if you’re a young one, you might not have had time to establish a credit history, like most students applying for college. For this reason, private student loans often require a cosigner. Even if your parents are very supportive, they may be hesitant to take this step. This may make you wonder do parents have to cosign student loans? Finding out may help you guide how you proceed and can be useful information for when your own child is heading off to college as well.
Child Care and Connecting with Peers
Getting reliable and affordable childcare is a challenge for all parents. Finding childcare that allows you to attend classes can be an additional difficulty you face that many other students do not. It may be that your parents or other family members are willing and able to look after your child, but if that’s not the case, you may still have other options. You can look for a campus that has a childcare center, which is becoming increasingly common.
Another difficult you might encounter as a young parent going to college is that those in your age group don’t have children and those who do have children are older than you. However, you may find other young parents there, and even if you don’t, connecting with other students who have kids can help you find a community that understands what you’re dealing with. Your school may have an organization or other resources available for students with children.
Many classes are available online, and in some cases, depending on the degree you’re seeking, you may be able to complete the entirety of a degree online. In other situations, you might be able to do so mostly online with a low-residency program that only requires you to be on campus a few times a year or with a program where you need to complete some labs or other training in person but can do the rest online. In particular, look for accredited universities and programs that offer asynchronous classes so that you can take them at your leisure. Online classes can be especially helpful if you don’t have any options for childcare or have a work schedule that you need to accommodate.
For student parents of all ages, balancing work family and studies is a feat and organization and good time management will be crucial. Understand that you can’t do everything. A spotless house and home-cooked meals may have to go out the window. Try to take advantage of whatever your child’s schedule is. Some babies are very good sleepers, and you may be able to get work done while they’re taking naps. Others are not, and you might end up just taking one class at a time or postponing school for a few months until they are a little older.