Did you know that more than a quarter of university students in the UK are now classed as mature students, meaning they’re aged 21 and over at the time of starting their course?
And that many of those mature students are parents too?
It’s not always easy being a single parent, however, there is so much support available if you know where to search. There’s also no reason why you can’t fulfil your career goals while still being the main caregiver for your children.
While your children are always going to be your priority, you also need to think about yourself and your career goals, especially if your children are getting a little older and are attending school. Now might be the best time to think about restarting your career or education.
From finding financial support and confirming childcare arrangements to not being afraid to ask for help, keep reading to find out how to attend university as a single parent without letting your home or work life suffer.
How to attend University as a single parent
Apply for financial support
Known as student finance, anyone starting higher education can apply for a selection of grants and loans that are designed to help those undertaking further education to help pay for their living costs and other expenses.
However, as a single parent, there are also several other lines of financial support that you may be eligible for, including a childcare grant, a parent’s learning allowance, and an adult dependent’s grant. Check out this useful blog post from Growing Power that explains all the support offered for parents, including childcare support and support for students with children.
Talk to your employer
If you are currently working, whether full-time or part-time, you need to make speaking to your employer a priority if you want to attend university. However, depending on your chosen course and how much of your time will be taken up by your studies, you may have to reduce your working hours or even leave your job. Perhaps you could consider finding a job that you can do from home?
That being said, if your course directly applies to your job, you may find your employer to be more supportive in your endeavours to better yourself. They may even offer to part-fund your studies.
Research childcare options
If your children are not yet in full-time education and you haven’t used childcare regularly before, you will need to carry out quite a bit of research to find out what you are entitled to and what you can realistically afford.
There are several UK Government schemes that offer financial support for childcare while you study, including the discretionary learner support scheme and the care-to-learn childcare scheme that is specifically aimed at parents under the age of 20.
Ask for help
As well as government back-to-work initiatives and funding schemes, don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for help. Explain that you are trying to build a better future for you and your children and that you would appreciate their support.
You could even share childcare responsibilities with other single parents that you trust, saving you money on hiring a professional childminder when you need to study.
It may seem like an uphill struggle when it comes to attending university as a single parent, but there is a lot more help and support out there than you realise, and it will be worth it when you graduate.
This is a collaborative post.