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Part of Western Governors University

August 12, 2021

Online University Experience

Advice On Getting Support as a Student Parent

“How will I manage a degree program and the responsibilities of being a parent?”

If you’ve asked yourself this question, we’re here to help. Thousands of WGU graduates have been in your shoes, and they have some great tips to prepare you for the experience of being both a student and parent. 

One resounding piece of advice among WGU students is to have a solid support system. In fact, many said that’s the secret ingredient to balancing the responsibilities of a degree program, work, and kids. 

Support can come in many forms. In addition to friends and family, your support system can include other students in your program, your professors, colleagues, and academic mentors. 

Here are a few tips on how you can go about finding a support system, according to WGU grads. 

How to Find Support as a WGU Student and Parent

1. Reach Out to Your Course Instructors

Course instructors can be invaluable resources to you throughout your college career. After all, your instructors are experts in their field and know the courses better than anyone. They can provide feedback, advice, and tools to help you succeed in your studies. All you have to do is reach out.

For WGU graduate Rachel Palmer, reaching out to WGU’s instructors was a game changer.

“Without their advice and instruction, I would not have finished my BSN,” she said. “Ask questions and follow their advice; they want to see you succeed as much as you do!”

2. Utilize Your Program Mentor

Many online programs offer a program mentor who acts as your advocate and counselor. At WGU, every incoming student is paired with a faculty member who provides one-on-one guidance throughout your studies. They help you create a course plan and stay motivated and on track to complete your degree.

As a college student and single parent of six children, Lyndsie Jones says regular check-ins with her program mentor helped her overcome the overwhelm.

“Listening to my mentor was critical. I was overwhelmed every single day, but I knew if I did a little bit that my mentor asked me to complete it would add up to finishing each step,” she said.

Her advice to new student parents is this:

“Talk to your mentor about struggles you are facing. They often have resources. It can be hard, lonely, and awkward as a single parent, but finding a support system is critical. WGU is amazing at offering assistance to students,” said Lyndsie.  

3. Rely on a Supportive Partner

Your partner can be a major source of support during your degree program. Lean on them and don’t feel guilty about giving them more responsibility as you focus on your education.

That was the case for Alice Strumski.

“If I was doing an assignment, my husband might do the dishes that night. If my husband was looking through my work for typos, it was my turn to do the laundry,” she said.

She suggests having the kids pitch in, too.

“My son picks up duties, including cooking, when one of us can't. Family, school, work, housework…it should always be a team effort. Ask for help. Don't think you can do everything alone,” said Alice.

4. Find a Support Network

Friends and family members can be a huge source of support as you’re working toward your degree—and according to Kimberly Nygren—they can also be your biggest cheerleader.

“The day I found out I passed my last assessment and my capstone, I cheered for myself in the parking lot and then called my family and friends and let them cheer for me,” she said.

Her top tip for parents in an online degree program?   

“Surround yourself with people who believe in you and who will support you on your journey. Believe in yourself as much as your support network does, because while you’re doubting yourself, someone else is admiring your strength,” said Kimberly.

Amy Biemeck adds:

“Make sure you have the support and dedication of a partner, friend, or family, and let them know what you need to be successful. Don't feel guilty for making your dreams and goals a priority,” she said.

5. Ask for Help

It’s not always easy to ask for support, but it’s worth it. That’s Rachel Palmer’s advice. 

“As parents, we tend to be independent problem solvers, but your mentor and course instructors are lifesavers. Without their advice and instruction, I would not have finished my BSN,” she said.
The power of a support system is profound. That’s why online degree programs like WGU are designed to empower you with a network of people to support your success.
“Fall back on the wonderful resources WGU has for students, beginning with your mentor and course instructors,” said Renee Sutton.
Lastly, she has this to say: 
“If you’re a single parent, give yourself grace; every small step is worthwhile.”

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