Single parents are faced with unique challenges.  As the parent who is the primary caregiver of your children and most likely the main breadwinner for the household, you understand the hurdles that have to be overcome, sometimes even on a daily basis.

It may be especially difficult if you are unexpectedly thrust into the role of single parent and suddenly forced to manage a household, go back to work and find daycare for your children. Parents who stayed at home prior to a divorce or relationship breakup often find it harder to land a job due to an employment gap.

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While it is true the time spent in school will come with extra responsibility, in the long run education could prove to be key to the opening additional doors of opportunity. There are several terrific reasons why pursuing higher education can make life easier.

Improve Your Financial Situation

Developing a more secure financial future is probably the primary reason many single parents return to school. In a one-income household it is often difficult to make ends meet with the monthly expenses, and often "extras" are given up in favor of paying for necessities or for unexpected costs that pop up.

If you are in this situation, pursuing additional education can help build your family's future. Today's job market is pretty competitive and many single parents opt to return to school in order to add degree or other credentials to their resumes to increase employment marketability. In today's job market it can be challenging to get a secure job with a high salary; but with a degree to add to an already established skills of solely managing a household, many single parents find they become better armed to find their dream job.

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Gain Confidence

After a breakup occurs, newly single parents often go through a myriad of emotions. The newness of being a single parent triggers many feelings which may have not existed before and may affect self-esteem.

Additionally, depending on the circumstances surrounding the breakup, the single parent may feel a little insecure. This is often due to the strong emotions tied to relationships which often overflow into the area of confidence. Over time, these feelings do pass and school is a great way to help a person overcome these feelings.

By returning to school and begin making progress in a degree program, self-confidence tends to naturally increase. Whether you immerse yourself in full-time studies or take a little longer, even one course at a time, each step towards obtaining a degree is a milestone and one to feel proud of. As a higher level of self-confidence is gained, you'll feel more equipped to handle any problems thrown your way.

Network With Other People

At school you have a great opportunity to network with other people. Education is one way to directly reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation that is felt after the breakup.  When you return to school as a single parent, there is a high probability you will meet other parents in the same situation as you are who have also returned to school for similar reasons. Did you know there are 3.5 million college students who are also single parents? (statistics from 2011-2012)

You'll quickly learn networking with other parents is a tremendous source of support and, along the way, you'll be able to develop connections to other people who share similar situations and feelings. This kind of mutual understanding is priceless.

Develop Social Connections

From networking can also come friendships. Continuing education is a way to develop social connections to other students. You can join study groups or clubs to further enhance your educational experience and this will be a proactive way to get life back on track. If it has been many years since you’ve been in a classroom and you feel “too old” to go back to school, you might be surprised to learn that today’s classes are comprised of a lot of age diversity.

All experiences enhance learning and when you have the opportunity to make friends and be involved socially this will increase self-esteem and also give you a sense of security as you bond with other students. Even if you are taking online classes, you can develop a sense of camaraderie with your fellow students, which is also a good feeling.

Be a Role Model

In addition to the tangible benefits that continuing higher education provides, you'll also find another way to be a role model for your children. When you return to school your kids will see first-hand how persistence, perseverance and hard work yield success. They will see mom or dad working hard and carry those qualities to their own schoolwork. Parents and children can even carve out together time by having studying/homework time together.

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Terrific Flexibility

The beauty about going back to school in this day and age is that there are so many flexible options to accomplish your goals. Universities today offer night, weekend and distance learning courses in addition to traditional day classes. You can easily find a class schedule that is compatible with your work schedule and doesn't sacrifice any of children's needs.

Finances may be another concern, but fortunately there are many grants, aid and scholarships you can apply for that are geared toward single parents. This is in addition to the regular sources of financial aid you can apply for.

When you know you are the sole person your children depend upon this may feel a little scary at first and you may wonder if you're able to handle things. You can do this! Education is a great stepping stone to help gain the confidence to be both happy and successful on your own.

Being a single parent is sometimes tough, but going back to college can enhance your family's life on many levels.  You'll emerge as a college graduate who is confident, happy, feels a strong sense of accomplishment and on a track to a healthier financial future.