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Online Schools Make it Easier for Single Parents to Earn a Degree

Oct 5, 2007 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 1 Comments

It’s common wisdom: if you want to improve your situation, increase your education.  A Bachelor’s or an advanced degree can take your income to the next level and make you a more valuable employee.  But if you’re a single parent, this advice is easier said than done. 

Getting an online degree requires an investment of money and time.  And both of these are tight for single parents.  Many work multiple jobs to make ends meet; college class schedules can rarely accommodate adults whose responsibilities include two full-time jobs plus childcare. 

And despite their hectic work schedules, many single parents simply don’t have the money to spend on an education.  According to the Luxembourg Income Study of 2006, single-parent families in America are more prone to poverty than any other type of family group in any other country.   Between childcare, housing costs and day-to-day expenses for their children, finding the extra money for tuition, books, transportation to and from school, and time off to study is next to impossible for many single parents.

As a result, these parents often find themselves trapped.  The lower their incomes to begin with, the more difficult it is to further their education and move to higher-paying jobs.

Online Education Can Help

Online education, however, could change all that.  Between flexible schedules and money-saving advantages such as lower incidental and transportation expenses, an online degree program is practically tailor-made for single moms and dads.  As a single parent, here are some of the barriers you face to meeting your educational goals, and how online education can help you overcome them.

Also See: Online Univeristy

Childcare is too expensive

Childcare takes a huge bite out of single parents’ wages. Daycare centers can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 per year, depending on where you live.  For many single parents, it’s a huge burden. 

Taking traditional college classes requires you to be out of the house for several hours a week or more.  This is in addition to time you already spend out of the house to earn a living.  Your kids will need supervision while you’re away, and for many parents, that means extra time in daycare—and extra cost to them.

When you take classes online, you don’t need daycare.  You can study while your children take a nap, play in the next room, or watch their favorite television show.  The savings in childcare alone can make a big difference to your finances while you’re a student.

I can’t fit college classes into my schedule

As a single parent, you live a hectic life.  Between full time jobs and parenting responsibilities, it’s hard to make time for classes.  Even evening and weekend classes are difficult for many single parents to fit into their schedules, because many have nobody to take over their family responsibilities while they’re out of the house.

Online classes allow you to study when you have time—whether that’s late at night, early in the morning, or when the kids are at school.  If you don’t have a three-hour chunk of time to spend in a traditional classroom, you can break your study time up to fit around your schedule.  

Going to school part-time will take too long

Many single parents take college classes part-time.  Becoming a traditional full-time student often means quitting or scaling back to part-time work, and many parents simply can’t afford to do that.  As a result, it can take single parents as much as ten years to earn a online four-year degree

Flexible online degree programs let single parents fit classes around their existing responsibilities.  In many cases, it’s possible to take on a full-time load of classes while working full-time. 

Transportation is a nightmare

Gas isn’t cheap, and if you don’t have a car, public transportation can be less than convenient.  It’s not uncommon for traditional students to face commutes of an hour or more, even if they live in major cities. 

It’s a hassle for everybody, but for single parents, it’s especially difficult.  Daycares can close before evening classes end; kids may need to be driven to daycare centers off the school-bus route—and parents often face a rush-hour dash from work to class, with plenty of stops in between. 

Online classes remove the hassle.  When you take classes online, your biggest commute is from your front door to your computer.  You have time to pick up the kids at daycare or meet them at the door, make dinner, and settle down with your latest assignment.  And your transportation costs are nonexistent.

If you’re a single parent, the world rests on your shoulders.  With all your costs and responsibilities, it can be extremely difficult to pursue a degree.  Online education makes it possible for you to earn a degree on your time—and on your terms.  It’s an opportunity to increase your earning potential and make life easier, both for yourself and your kids.



Jennifer Over a year ago

Single parents attending college have many obstacles and difficulties. They have demands on their time greater than the amount of time they spend in class. They must also study to achieve satisfactory academic performance.

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