Letter: I’m a Single Mom Studying to Become a Nurse. Virtual Tools Are a Lifeline to My Success.
As another school year kicks off, so too does the hectic juggling of schedules for single mothers pursuing higher education. The daily coordination of school or daycare prep, after school activities, and bedtime routines with class, studies, and the need to earn a living leave student parents with overwhelming responsibility. This balancing act is made all the more difficult by a global pandemic that threatens to upend even the most meticulously planned schedules.
I’m hardly alone in the struggle to care for my child while maintaining life’s other duties. In fact, of the 11 million single parent families with children under the age of 18, 80% are headed by single mothers.
We also make up the majority of student parents. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 70% of student parents are women — and 62% of those are single mothers.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this inequality, disproportionately hitting women in the workplace, particularly single mothers. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 1.5 million mothers of school-aged kids have left the workforce and roughly half a million more women than men are still absent.
Not only did we leave the workforce in droves, many single moms were forced to put their education on hold as childcare facilities closed and classrooms moved to virtual.
The reality is the path to success for single women is a steep climb rife with obstacles. As we balance care for our children while working to build a better future for our families, student parents like myself are open to any tools that will make our lives easier.
Trusted online resources like Chegg and Varsity Tutors have done just this, bringing a wealth of information right to our fingertips. Not only are these tools less expensive than traditional tutoring, they save us the need to commute to and from campus for faculty office hours or library visits. As any parent knows, time is money and an educational platform that saves us both is worth the investment.
Regrettably, misuse of virtual academic tools by a small share of students has led many professors across the country to restrict or even outright ban these sites. For students like myself, these crackdowns are devastating. Restricting my ability to use online resources — which, unlike faculty support, are accessible around the clock — is not only detrimental to my studies, it takes away precious time with my child.
Providing students with every resource possible to learn and succeed should be the foremost duty of our educators. Single mothers like myself already face a slew of barriers as we work toward advancing our education, universities shouldn’t add more.
Sarah Nye, Salem