Single parents juggle school and work

By Marcie Arriola
Pulse Staff Reporter

Photo of Palo Alto students take advantage of the college's Writing Center.
Palo Alto students take advantage of the college’s Writing Center. Photo by Steven Rodriguez.

As any full-time college student knows, keeping up with assignment deadlines is tough. Add raising a child and working into the mix, and the demands get overwhelming quickly.

The problem lies in being a single parent with no outside help. This is often what forces mothers or fathers raising a child alone to either delay or quit their education altogether, especially when it seems the payoff is better to have a full-time job now than to finish school first.

“I realized that right now was the time for me to get my education and not hold off until later. It would have been easy for me to wait, but that would have prevented me from reaching my goals sooner,” said Ruby Gonzales, a 21-year-old mother of one who is a Criminal Justice major.

Like most parents, Gonzales has to prioritize bills, such as childcare, rent, basic health costs along with tuition and fees. Single parents are already at an economic disadvantage, which is why pursuing a degree is even more important.

“If anything, Jacob is my motivation to keep it up,” Gonzales said.

Her story is not unique, but it is inspiring for those who think that raising a child and going to school is overwhelming. Balancing children with other responsibilities is challenging. However, parents willing to make necessary adjustments and sacrifices are sure to succeed if they are motivated.

A good support system is helpful when it seems impossible. For those who don’t have enough support or resources, looking into discounted childcare through the government, trusted family or friends and even through a church are ideal. Ask around. Some have programs dedicated specifically to help single parents who work and attend school.

“Don’t be afraid to utilize resources available. Also, connect with other single parents who are understanding and know that you aren’t alone,” said Courtney Dryar, a Business major.

Students attending Palo Alto College are fortunate to have the Ray Ellison Family Center, a developmental care service provider for children of the community, ages 21 months to 4 years old. While it serves the South Side community, Palo Alto College students get a discounted rate. The hours of the center are Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 5: 30 p.m.

According to Irma Flores, spokesperson for the center, two classes are provided by South San ISD and have the same requirements for Head Start as other programs. REFC is licensed for 66 children and provides education, meals and rest time.

“There is no easy way, no perfect schedule. Kids are very unpredictable – but it is possible, and it will be worth it,” said Gonzales.