Last Updated on September 12, 2023 by Lori Pace
Going to college as a mom is challenging at any age. However, if you’re a teen mom who wants to earn a degree, it can feel impossible. In fact, you might even feel completely isolated and alone, especially when everyone else your age is child-free. But earning a degree can make all these feelings disappear. Accomplishing your dreams is life-changing and puts you on the path to future success. While getting started on your educational journey may feel overwhelming, it’s not as hard as you might think. Here’s how you can get started.
Make Time Management a Priority
As a teen mom, you are already trying to find time to take care of your baby and yourself as well. You may be finishing your last year of high school or working part-time. In either case, you need to start planning how you’ll manage college courses, working part-time (if applicable), and taking care of your baby. If you’re living at home with family, it’s a good idea to ask them if they’d be able to help from time to time. You can also ask friends if they’d be willing to babysit while you attend classes.
Paying for Your Degree
In addition to creating a schedule that works for you, you also need a way to pay for your education. Some apply for scholarships while others ask their parents to cosign a loan. You might even ask yourself do parents have to cosign student loans? Depending on the situation the answer may be yes or no. It’s possible to have someone else cosign a loan, however, it does depend on the lender. However, it’s also important to note that anyone who cosigns must have good credit and be verifiable income. For this reason, the person you ask, even if it’s your parent, needs to have their finances in order.
Apply to several Colleges
Having a child does limit the different colleges you can apply to. Since you need to stay close to home, you need to start your search early and apply to all the ones that interest you. It’s a good idea to look at both larger universities and community colleges. Look for those that offer on-campus childcare, a diverse program, and even online options for attendance. You should also look for colleges that prioritize students who have children.
That way, it’ll be easier to find ones that have on-site childcare or even offer vouchers that you can use at an external daycare facility. If you choose to go online, you can search for online schools that offer the program you want to study. One of the perks of online universities is that they’re designed to fit busy schedules. Most students who attend are working professionals looking to further their careers, or busy parents who need the flexibility to do their courses on their own schedule.
Don’t Worry About Social Stigma
Another thing that most teen moms worry about is social stigma. It’s hard enough going from teen to young adulthood, however, when you become a mother during this time, it’s normal to feel like an outsider among your peers. It’s even safe to say that there may be those who make rude comments behind your back or even to your face. Just like you, these people are transitioning into young adulthood and need to mature. If this happens, the best thing you can do is ignore it. If you choose to speak, you can simply say that your personal life is not up for discussion, and you’d appreciate them keeping their comments to themselves.
Create a Designated Study Space
Creating the right atmosphere can also help you succeed. Even if it’s only a tiny nook in the corner, you need to set a place where you can study. If possible, create a space away from family and even your child. Like children, you need a designated spot where you can focus on school without distraction. If this isn’t possible, then you can study on campus, at the library, or even at a friend’s house who’s offered to help out.
Becoming a parent at any age is stressful. Even as wonderful as being with your child is, everyone needs time to themselves. Even if you can’t spend the day at a spa, you can still practice self-care after your child is asleep. If you can afford it, you can also plan an afternoon where you spend time with friends or even take yourself out to lunch.
Take Study Breaks
As tempting as it is to pull an all-nighter, you also need to give yourself time to process what you’ve been studying. The best way to accomplish this is to create a set schedule. Keep in mind that your schedule doesn’t need to be what you think is the norm. Say you work part-time and need to get studying done as well.
You could create power hours where you can focus exclusively on school without distraction. When the hour is up, you can then take a 15 to 20-minute break where you get a cup of coffee or eat a snack. While it might seem impossible to do, especially when you have a million things on your bucket list, you’ll be surprised how much better you feel mentally and physically.
Don’t Be Hard on Yourself
When things don’t go according to plan, it’s easy to blame yourself. After all, you’re supposed to have everything under control and now things went wrong. Blaming yourself is easy, but it’s not the right things to do. Everyone has bad days where everything that can go wrong does go wrong. Unless you deliberately did something wrong, be gentle with yourself. Take time to learn how to recover from parenting fails and to think about how you could have done things differently and how you’ll institute changes in the future.
Celebrate the Little Wins
You’ve worked hard, so you need to give credit where credit is due. Even if it’s something like passing a hard exam with an average grade, you deserve a pat on the back. You can buy yourself your favorite coffee drink, splurge on your favorite meal, or hang out in your bed with your pup, making celebrating a priority.