An average college student finds that the balance between work, university and social life brings many challenges and worries. For some students, add to the list raising a kid as a single parent while pursuing a career.
According to a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the number of single mothers in college more than doubled between 1999 and 2012, reaching 2.1 million students.
“My goal is to go into marketing as a creative designer, focusing primarily on photography,” said Apryll Clark, a senior studying communication. “Also, I would like to do some sort of event planning, probably for the company I end up working for.”
Clark wakes up at 6 a.m. every day, gets ready, makes and packs her daughter’s lunch and takes her to school before 8 a.m.
“Then I rush to school, usually a little late,” Clark said.
After two classes between 8 to 11:15 a.m. and a 45-minute lunch, she goes to work for a few hours, picks up her daughter, has dinner, cleans and gets everything ready to start homework at 7 p.m.
“I take a break at 8 p.m. to get my daughter in bed,” Clark said. “Then I stay up until about midnight doing homework. I sleep for about 6 hours and repeat it the next day.”
Being a single mother and a college student adds to things to balance.
“I don’t really think I do balance everything,” Clark said. “I always feel rushed and find that I miss small things on my homework. I will take time and play with her and help her with her homework before I start anything for me.”
Some of the challenges that single parents face include having less time to work on their homework and meet deadlines.
“I don’t think that my grades reflect what I really know, I feel like that is my duty as a mother to put my daughter first and do my homework second or last,” Clark said.
Other challenges involve going out with friends, dating and finding an affordable babysitter.
“The biggest one is a financial challenge,” Clark said. “Because I have a child, I have to live in community housing, and the legal system requires me to have a two-bedroom apartment. Unlike married couples, there is only one income to pay all the bills, including $800 rent.”
In 2015, 31 percent of single mothers ages 25 and older had a college degree.
“I am also considering going to graduate school to get an MBA in Marketing,” Clark said. “I want to go into marketing because it allows me to be creative and do what I am passionate about with a steady income and family friendly hours that would allow me to be a mom.”
BYU-Idaho, at the moment, doesn’t offer aid or services specifically to single parents other than the ones all the students can apply to.
Living the college life brings many challenges. Living the single parent college life brings some more. But the search for higher education, better life and achieving goals continues.
“I always make my daughter my first priority,” Clark said.