Tag Archives: single moms

How To Fit Part Time Course Work Into Your Schedule

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As the single mom plans her education path to get the certificates and degrees she feels that she needs to advance her career, she finds that she has to conform to the time available between her family and her job. A lot of non-traditional students find themselves in this situation.

When a student goes directly from high school into college, they have the financial resources and the available time to commit to a full schedule of classes, homework and study. The single mom isn’t blessed with this option. Luckily, with the availability of online courses and those that are scheduled for evenings, she doesn’t have to give up her dreams of advancing her career by adding a degree to her resume. She can even choose part time course work.

Before mom decides if she will be a full time or part time student, she should research the pros and cons. Go into the process with an open mind, or you may find that you are missing a lot of options.

Colleges differ on what they consider the requirements that define full time students. Check the minimum requirement of the full time student, and you may find out that it fits the same description that you imagined was part time.

Some courses are more time demanding than others. In some cases one or two classes will take up all of the time that the single mom has available to devote to her studies. Other classes can be completed with a lot less effort and mom can easily complete the requirements of being classified as a full time student and still remain within the time she has set aside for school.

The scheduling flexibility most institutions of higher learning offer to their students means that the single mom can choose the time she will be devoting to study. This can help to make her class scheduling more efficient. It may allow her to squeeze and additional class in that will bring her into the full time student category while still giving it a part time definition on her busy daily planner.

Before the single mom decides that she will choose to classify herself as a part time student rather than full time, she should double check with her advisor to make sure that she will not be putting any financial packages she is using for tuition in jeopardy. Many grants, scholarships and financial aid are only given to students who pursue their studies full time. Taking a partial load may mean that she has to pay for these classes and the associated expenses out of her own pocket. There is also the possibility that a temporary change from full time to part time will make it harder, if not impossible, to get the additional monies back if she decides later to return to full time status.

Is it a Netbook or a Laptop?

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Often a single mom who is researching her computer needs has a hard time figuring out if the product she is looking at is considered a laptop or a netbook. That’s because there are fewer features that are different enough to make them stand out.

The easy to carry netbook can replace the need to upgrade your cell phone to a BlackBerry or iPhone just so you can be connected anywhere you go, but the newer versions can do so much more. In fact, the right netbook can often serve to help you with all of your computing needs.

The keyboard of a netbook is smaller than the keyboard of a laptop, but not by much. Most of the keyboards on netbooks are approximately 92 percent of the size of a regular keyboard, although some are smaller. It doesn’t take much time for the user to adjust to the smaller size, and most people find they have no problem moving from the smaller netbook keyboard to the full size keyboard several times during the day.

The difference in the processor is the most important feature the person researching a portable computer will look at.  But, with the blurring of the lines between a laptop and a netbook, many people are opting for the less expensive netbook as the tool to serve their own computer needs, not only for people on the go. The netbook is also cutting into the sales numbers of the desktop computer.

The marketing departments in the computer industry are facing a dilemma as the differences between the netbook and laptop computer are becoming fewer. Naturally, they’d like to sell the higher priced laptop. But why would a consumer purchase it when they can find all of the features they need in a netbook that costs less?

The bigger netbooks usually have a 10 inch screen. A laptop has a larger screen, usually from 12 to 17 inches. The larger screens are more popular if they are going to be used for more than just internet surfing, social media and email.

If the screen is too small, the user may find she has to choose between scrolling across the page or straining her eyes to read the small print. This is not a problem for mom if she’s just checking her email, the news headlines or chatting. It could be a problem if she is doing research and writing papers and needs more than one program to show up on the screen.

The best advice for the single mom who is in the market for a computer to meet her back to school needs is to determine what she is going to use the gadget for. Decide what size screen she needs to be able to comfortably able to do not only her note taking and communication needs, but to fulfill all of her computing needs. This is especially true if the new purchase will be her main computer. Then, just ignore the label. Whether it is marketed as a laptop or a netbook really makes no difference as long as it fulfills the needs you have in your computing device.

3 Tips For Working Full Time While Attending College Full Time

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Juggling a full time job with full time college is hard enough. Add in a child or two and life can be pretty complicated. Does this mean you shouldn’t do it? Not necessarily.

Without the benefit of scholarships or a 529 college savings plan to pay for school, there will be tuition and book fees at the very least to pay. In addition, as a single mom, you have to support your family. This probably leaves you little choice about working full time. So now you have to figure out how you can work full time, carry a full load of classes and still have time for your family.

Tips for Making Time

In order to fit in all the things you have to do, you will need to give up some things you like to do. Cut down on the time you spend on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Reduce the number of personal phone calls you make. Instead, try sending a text to get important information across. This reduces the temptation to chat and use more time than you have to spare.

School Comes First

The time and money you are putting into school are an investment in your future, a future that will benefit your family as well as yourself. When you have homework or studying to do, you have to make the commitment that school comes first. This may mean you have to skip some outings or watching TV programs with your kids sometimes. Remind yourself it isn’t forever and will be worth it in the long run. This focus will be extremely important during midterms and finals. And you don’t have to go to school during the summer. With summer, spring and holiday breaks, there will be plenty of time to do things with the kids.

Finding Balance

After the first week or two of school each semester, you should have a pretty good feel for how much studying you will need to do. You can plan your week to make the most of your time. Schedule certain days for studying, house cleaning and running errands. Stick to the schedule and you will find you and your children will adapt in no time. Make sure to include some down time for yourself. All work and no play make Jane a dull girl. Set aside one day each weekend, if you can, to spend with the kids or get out with friends.

The advantage to holding down a full time job while attending college full time is that you can continue to support yourself while finishing school more quickly than if you only attended part time. You might also be able to apply some of what you earn to paying down what you owe for college. Getting out of debt sooner is always a plus. Handled properly and diligently, you can be supermom.

Simple Steps To Choosing The Right Major

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How do you know what you want to be when you “grow up”? Single moms may feel the need to go to school, to earn a degree or otherwise prepare themselves and their children for their future. But how do you know that what interests you now is what will excite you as a career? How do you know that after earning a degree you won’t decide that the chosen career field isn’t what you really want? To be honest, you don’t know. But neither do most high school seniors when they choose their college majors.

To make an informed decision and choose a major that will be a perfect fit for your life there are a few simple steps you can take.

Aptitude Testing

By taking aptitude tests you can evaluate which careers and fields match with the areas you are naturally inclined to do well in. You may be surprised at some of the areas in which you excel because you’ve not considered those possible careers or degrees before.

Career Counseling

Once you have your aptitude testing over with and have a few ideas visit a career counselor to discuss the variety of positions you could be qualified for and to find out what sort of degree and education requirements each has. Keep an open mind and really consider some of the career possibilities.

College Admissions Counselor

Your college counselor will help you narrow down the classes you need for the degree you have decided on and work with you to optimize your schedule. No matter what career you’ve decided on once you achieve your degree you may still find that you have grown more interested in a different facet of the field. Your degree isn’t a waste at that point; you can still work in the area of your major while you develop the skills to change your direct position.

To put it simply you don’t have to know what you want to be when you “grow up” before you go to college, all you have to do is be dedicated to being the best you that you can be. Follow your heart, follow your dreams and take that first step toward getting a degree and being a success. Be an example for your children; teach them to take responsibility, to work toward their goals and to do what they love.

Single Moms Often Choose To Be Part Time Students

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As a single mom you more than likely have several responsibilities to juggle each day, including student life. When you consider going back to school it may seem overwhelming. If you want to earn a degree you can make plans and arrange to go to school part time if you need to. Many single moms choose to be a part time student in order to keep their jobs and have time for their children.

Part time college classes are often very flexible to schedule including evening, weekend and online classes to make it easier for you to fit your education into your schedule. It may take you a few extra years to earn your degree by going to school part time, but the ability to keep gainful employment and have time for your kids while going to school is a major benefit of part time classes.  With online classes you can even do your work after the kids go to bed at night or early in the morning, you can’t beat the flexibility of part time classes when you consider some of the alternatives. Would you rather work a full shift 5 days a week and also go to classes at night 5 days a week in order to be a full time student? When would you see your kids, and when you did see them would you be in any frame of mind to enjoy them?

Financial aid, grants and even some scholarships are available for single moms even if they are only attending school part time. Schools, employers and financial providers are aware of how difficult it can be to manage going back to school when you are a single mom and many will work with you to arrange a set work schedule, flexible class scheduling and financial aid so that you can take on the challenge of earning your degree.

Some employers even offer tuition assistance for furthering education classes that you can take part time to better prepare yourself for promotion within your company. Don’t pass up any opportunity to get your education. It may take some juggling and more than a little flexibility, but even as a part time student you can earn your degree while still taking care of your family.

When you speak with a school counselor to begin the process of going back to school be sure to ask what your options are for part time student life versus full time and whether the choice to be a part time student will affect any of your financial options.

Transportation Assistance For The College Commuter

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Getting to and from the college can be a burden for many single moms when they return to school, but there are often resources available to help them manage. Some are unique to specific colleges, while other resources may be found at the same place you applied for financial aid to pay your tuition.

Even if you have a dependable car, there is the extra cost of fuel that will put a strain on the budget. If the car breaks down, you have to have a better choice than to drop out of school.

Public transit systems usually have stops at the local college. This is a low cost way of getting back and forth. Not only does it save the student gas money, but there is no need to purchase a parking permit on campus. Check with local mass transit to see if they have service to your school.

If you find that the mass transit option will work with your schedule, save even more money on transportation by asking the admissions office if they offer vouchers to students who use mass transit to attend classes.

Because many campuses suffer a shortage of parking spaces, they work with students who find it difficult to travel back and forth to school. In addition to vouchers for public transportation, they can also arrange for discounted parking permits.

Some schools have special grants for transportation funded by alumni or members of the community. This type of financial assistance is unique to the school and eligibility requirements will be different from campus to campus. Contact the business office or financial aid counselor to find out if there are local grants available and how to apply for them.

Arrangements are often made within a college town for a private transportation service company to provide reduce cost rides to college students. Similar to companies that assist the elderly or disabled, many services in this type of program offer customizable routes and pick up times. Again, this type of service would be unique to the community, but the business office will be able to direct you to the proper resource to get more information.

The financial aid counselor will also be able to help you identify other sources of transportation assistance that may be available to you. Many grants and scholarships allow the money to be used for living expenses as well as educational expenses. They can help you identify which category your transportation need falls in to and help you get the money you need if it’s available.

Don’t forget to ask for help from the Department of Social Services. If you have a case worker, request information on transportation assistance. If you are not in the system, call for an appointment to see if there are funds available to help you with your transportation needs as you work toward a degree that will help you take care of your family.

Applying for Financial Aid With Efficiency

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Looking for financial aid to go back to school is time consuming, but is well worth the effort for the single mom. Student loan debt is a difficult burden to carry, and sometimes makes the possibility of going back to school seem out of reach. Take advantage of every financial aid package that is available to you.

Acronyms

The financial aid process is full of acronyms. It seems to be taken for granted that the average student will know what they mean, and this could be true for the traditional student who is going into college directly from high school. For those of us who are non traditional students, however, the lingo needs to be translated.

FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It helps to determine if a student is eligible for private or public aid. Packages are available of all types of students. It can be used to earn certificates as well as degrees for any school that is campus based or online. Graduate students and undergrads should fill out the form as the first step in the financial aid search.

SAR is the Student Aid Report that the student will receive after they have submitted the FAFSA. Make sure that all of the information on the report is correct. Use the contact information on the report to resolve any errors.

EFC stands for Expected Family Contribution. The lower the EFC, the more money the student will receive in financial aid. This amount is for the higher education costs that you will have to pay the following year.

Getting the Funds

Once the single mom receives her SAR, she should check to see if she is eligible for a Pell Grant. Eligibility changes every year, so it’s important to keep up with the changes that Congress makes to the program. It’s well worth the effort because money from the program doesn’t have to be paid back.

The Pell Grant is named after Senator Claiborne Pell. It was known as the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant when it was started in 1973.

A copy of the SAR will automatically be sent to each of the schools that were listed on the FAFSA. Contact the school you choose to attend and compare the financial aid packages that will be available to you through that school. Funds will be available in forms of grants, work study funds and low interest loans.

The single mom should also look for money to help her pay for her higher education from scholarships. A private loan is also an option, but make sure that all other sources for lower cost financial aid have been applied for.

Many single moms neglect to contact their employers when they are looking for funds to pay the tuition needs and other expenses when they go back to school. Even if your employer doesn’t offer an educational assistance program, you can often ask for help and get it. If taking the classes will help make you more proficient in your job with the company, the employer might see the benefit of reimbursing you part of the expense you incurred after you have completed the class. It never hurts to ask.

Don’t Overspend on School Supplies

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When the single mom is struggling to get her assignments ready to hand in by the deadline, it’s nice to know that there is enough paper in the printer and a stapler available to hold the work together. But, when you have kids, you know how quickly the printer gets robbed of the copy paper for use when their creativity calls on them to draw. They also tend to forget to let you know when they need school supplies, and may end up borrowing yours. Keep extra on hand so that you always have what you need to have your own assignments ready to submit on time.

Find the Best Deals on Supplies for College

In the fall, when the kids go back to school, school supplies are usually at the lowest price. As you shop for the kids, make sure to have a list of your needed supplies, too. If you can afford to stock up, now is the time to do it. The supplies you’ll need probably won’t drop this low again until next fall.

Surprisingly, you can often get a better deal at the office supply store than you can at the discount stores on school supplies. Watch the ads, and rebate offers. Sign up for their email newsletters so that you don’t miss out on sales, especially if you’re looking for more expensive items like a computer, printer or storage.

The campus bookstore has school supplies for sale, but they are usually more expensive than purchases made off of the grounds. While a handy place to pick up emergency needs, each student will have to make the decision about whether having supplies that show off the school mascot is worth the extra price.

If the single mom is taking a course like photography or art, she may need special supplies that can’t be found in the discount or office supply stores. Special papers, brushes, fixatives and even camera film can be quite expensive. Suggest that the class get together and purchase the items in bulk, and you’ll be able to save a substantial amount of your education supplies budget.

Suggested Supplies

When the single mom goes back to school, she’ll probably realize that she needs the same basic supplies that her young children need.  To keep everything in one place and make transportation easier, start with a backpack or book bag. You’ll be carrying everything back and forth on a daily basis, without the benefit of a desk or locker to keep your items in.

Special items and supplies will be listed on the syllabus that is available in advance of the school term, but basic items each student should carry with them are:

  • Notebooks
  • Binders
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Eraser
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Tape
  • Folders

College students buy their own textbooks and often find that instead of taking copious notes, it’s often easier to write in the margins of the book or use a highlighter to mark important text. A small pack of sticky notes for extra notes and to use as bookmarks will also come in handy.

If you plan on doing homework outside of the home, pick up a small paperback dictionary and thesaurus and keep them in the backpack for when you need them.

Other items that are often needed for throughout the term include:

  • Calculator
  • Stapler and staples
  • Copy paper
  • Printer ink or toner
  • Data Storage

Eating A Healthy Meal IS An Option!

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As a single mom student, one of the areas that you may really struggle with is meal options. Being on the go all the time makes it hard to make sure you eat a well balanced diet, and of course the expense of either eating our or packing a lunch can also be a factor. There are several ways that single moms can eat better without breaking their budget. Take advantage of these food resources for single mom students.

  1. WIC – the Women and Infant Children program is designed to provide the necessities for pregnant women and children up to 5 years of age. This program provides vouchers to be used at the grocery store for several basic staples each month. Cheese, beans, milk, cereal and other items are included on the list. By utilizing your WIC vouchers, you can pack a great lunch for you and your little ones when you’re on the go.
  2. Food Stamps – Based on your income, you may qualify for food stamps to cover those grocery bills that would otherwise make eating healthy a challenge. You can purchase any food item with food stamps, so steer clear of the junk food and get some fresh fruit and produce, meat and actual meal ingredients. You can cook and prepare a week’s worth of lunches to keep in the fridge or freezer for healthy meal options all week!
  3. Coupons – Yes, it can be a hassle to sort, clip, and file coupons, but you don’t have to make it into a full time job–keep in mind that every penny you save is a good thing. When you get a product that has a coupon for use on your next purchase, stick it in your purse. When you go to the store next time, you’ll have it with you.
  4. Giveaways – Many grocery stores offer raffles or giveaways, if you see one of these, go ahead and take a few seconds to participate. Some of them include thousands of dollars worth of food.
  5. Visit online sites with quick, frugal meal options for college students. You may be financially struggling as a single mom student, but there are many students whose finances are just as tight who are being creative and frugal with what they can afford.

Don’t feel as if you’re the only one in your situation, and don’t allow pride to stop you from taking advantage of any sort of assistance or program that could help you make sure that you and your children eat a healthy diet while you go to school.

Find the Best Deals on College Textbooks

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College textbooks take a big chunk out of the going back to school budget, even when you buy them at the campus book store. By the time the single mom forks over the funds for the required materials for each class she’s taking and has to repeat the process every term until she graduates, the total amount spent can seem astronomical.

It’s true that the book store may buy them back, but they won’t pay you as much as they will resell them for. Luckily, the single mom who wants to save money on her textbooks has other options than the campus book store.

There is really no reason to buy a new textbook if you can find a deal on a used one. It’s just a matter of personal preference. As soon as you find out what books you will need for the coming term, start looking for the required supplies.

Check Bulletin Boards

A lot of students decide to sell their college textbooks on their own, knowing they can get more for them that the campus book store will pay them, and still charge less. Check the notices on the bulletin boards around campus. Coffee shops and restaurants near the campus may also have bulletin boards, so it may be worth checking out the student hangouts when looking for used text books.

Canvas other Students

Ask around to see if anyone knows a student who is presently taking a class that you are planning to take in the near future. If you are reasonably sure that the book requirement won’t change by the time you enroll, offer to purchase the text at the end of this term. If you have mutual friends, there is always the possibility that you’ll get a really good deal.

Textbook Sharing

Some students are successful in sharing college textbooks with others who are taking the same class but at a different time. They make it easier by forming a study group. One of the drawbacks of textbook sharing is when both students want the book at exam time. If you opt for the sharing, make sure you take complete notes during the term in case you’re not able to get the book to cram for tests.

Thrift Shops

Sometimes the single mom trying to save money on college textbooks is surprised to find the book they are looking for in the used book section of the thrift shop. Because the book has value, they don’t expect to find it as a donated item. But students are just like the rest of us. When they’re ready to move and find they don’t have the space for some items, they are hauled to the nearest place that will accept them.