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Six tips for single parents returning to school

As a newly single person, you may be asking yourself "What now?" You have the rest of your life ahead of you and now is the time to start living it. If you always wanted to go back to school, this may be the time. Going back to school as a single parent can be challenging yet rewarding.

Here are six tips for single parents who've decided to head back to school.

1. Time management is essential.

As a parent, you most likely have excellent time management skills. As a single parent and student, however, these skills will be put to the test. Some of the most important are being able to set boundaries and to say no.

2. Explore resources through your college.

Some colleges offer free or subsidized child care to enrolled students. Some universities have inexpensive family housing rentals. Be sure and check for such resources at your college.

3. Look for ways to save money.

You may be eligible for federal financial aid to help cover some of your education expenses. Some universities have dedicated scholarships for single parents that you may qualify for. Also, you may need to be extra frugal and find ways to save money.

4. Do it as a family.

Explain what you are striving to accomplish to your children. Ask for their help to the extent that is appropriate for their ages. If your kids are in school, study while they are working on their homework or reading. If your children are old enough, you can devise friendly, supportive family challenges. You and your children can support each other as you learn together.

5. Lean on your support network.

Rally your family and friends for support. Your parents, friends, neighbors and even your former spouse may be willing to help with occasional details such as picking the children up from school when you have an exam.

6. Make time for you.

Juggling classes, family and possibly a job is challenging. When you are burning the candle at both ends, it is too easy to burn out. As a parent, it is especially important to take care of yourself. Try to eat well, keep up with your exercise, get enough sleep and take a moment to relax.

Going back to school as a single parent is difficult, but it leads to new opportunities. As you establish a new routine, things should get easier for you and your family.

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