I have so much respect and genuine surprise when I meet single mothers who are doing a degree. Their life can be made a little easier if they are supported by their own parents or their kids are grown up, however, the majority of those that do pursue a degree usually have younger kids and very limited support. They do it because they know that it’s the only way they will be able to increase their salaries and quality of life in the future for both them and their children.
So, what makes it so hard?
A child is a very demanding creature. They require all of their parent’s attention. Furthermore, they are always involved in some kind of drama: be it running a high temperature, scraping their knee or getting into a fight. All kids have a talent of stirring up drama when it’s the most inconvenient time. So, a parent can only really study whilst a child is at school/nursery or when the kids are asleep. In both cases, the studying will need to be done over a very limited time period, whilst fighting exhaustion.
What I see in these parents, which I hope they can somehow teach other students, are sets of skills and attitudes that are very difficult to fault at interviews. They demonstrate hard work throughout their degree, the highest level of determination and the ability to prioritise. In a similar way to athletes, employers will know those employees that have the highest elements of stamina in their workplace. The most successful single parents will also have incredible preparation skills. Their kids will be running like clockwork, packed and dressed, always leaving on time and not arguing with the parent as they know how busy and tired they are. Furthermore, those parents will be able to realistically assess what can and can’t be done in a set period of time – an incredibly valuable skill that can only be developed with experience.
I applaud anyone who embarks on this journey. It’s an incredible decision and I wish you all the luck in the world as you deserve it.