Going to school online when you have other responsibilities can be difficult. When one of those other responsibilities is a child, the amount of planning and commitment involved grows exponentially. As a single mom, you want to provide the best future for your family and be a role model to your child. The following three steps are highly important in determining if you and your family are ready for you to pursue an online college degree.
Evaluate your support network.
If you have a child, you need to make sure someone is there for that child at all times. For single moms, working fulltime already provides a lot of difficulty in providing that support. However, if you are enrolled in college, you also need to be able to put all of your effort into doing well in your classes while working fulltime. These dueling responsibilities can be draining on you emotionally, mentally and physically, and you need to have a network of help standing on the sidelines through it all in order to make it work.
Always be open and honest with your friends and family about your needs, and chances are they will help you. Also, do not let your pride stand in the way of accepting help when people offer it—just remember to help them out later on when you are in a better place. If you do not have a healthy network of support in place, you should probably hold off on college plans and work on building that support network.
Stabilize your finances.
Before enrolling in any educational institution, even if it is an online one, you need to get on a healthy budget. Little destroys your GPA as much as financial stress can. Moreover, as a single mom, your opportunities for undoing any damage to your GPA, such as by retaking classes, are limited by that same budget.
When deciding on where and when to enroll, do some calculations first to make sure it fits into your budget. While it is true that college graduates get paid more on average, do not count on getting paid more after you graduate—if you will not be able to afford loan payments within your current budget, you should wait. Also, you should consider having an emergency fund prepared to support you for at least six months in case you discover that working fulltime and going to school fulltime is too much for you and your family.
Decide on a major.
While the typical college student enters college without knowing which major he or she wants to pursue, single moms generally do not have that convenience. You need to do the research ahead of time to determine not only which field you will enjoy working in but also which one will give you the best chance of providing for your family in the long run. Then, you can plan your class schedules optimally in order to reach those goals faster. In other words, going to college should never be a spur-of-the-moment decision.
If you have lost a job and are struggling, you may see college as a way to support yourself and your family in the short term. Nonetheless, there are plenty of other resources available to help you find your footing again without potentially sacrificing your future by entering a program of study that may not serve your future needs. While it may be tempting to ask for loans big enough to support your family while you prolong your education, that growing loan amount will need to be paid back one day.
Once you have considered all of these factors thoroughly, you will know whether you are ready for online college. If you have determined that you are not ready, that situation may be difficult to accept. However, even if you cannot go now, that fact does not mean that you should give up on your dreams. Focus on addressing any issues that are holding you back, and you will be able to pursue an online degree in the future.