How to Achieve a Diploma Qualification as a Single Working Parent

Working from home and taking on studying can be done as a single parent

Are you considering how to get a diploma as a single working parent? Juggling employment and young kids is difficult at any time, even more so if you are a single working parent. Of the 7.2 million Australian families, 1.1 million of them are single-parent households. Single mums head the vast majority (83%) of these households. Why would already busy single parents want to increase their load by choosing to study as well?

Spare time as a single parent is limited, and with financial burdens often a consideration, many single parents take on a second job to help cover living costs. While this may seem like a good short-term solution to money problems, it may not be the wisest long-term solution. Another choice is to return to study, such as an online diploma qualification to set you up for an overall healthier future.

Choosing the right course means you’ll learn the skills and knowledge you need to help you get into higher-paying roles in the future. By undertaking a diploma, you are opening yourself up to a wider variety of workplaces. The list of benefits goes on, and you don’t even have to set foot outside the house. Online diplomas, like those offered by the College for Adult Learning, allow flexibility and real results.

So, which online course might be the best for you?

Choosing the best diplomas for single parents

Many factors could help you choose a diploma that is right for you as a single working parent. Your field of expertise or interest is a good place to start to help you decide what to study. Assess your existing skills and then imagine you have a blank canvas for your dream job. What would that look like? What qualification would get you there faster?

If flexibility is important, diplomas relating to freelancing would be ideal, because you can easily pick your working hours to suit. Consider fields such as online sales, freelance writing, and social media management which benefit by gaining a leadership, business or business management diploma.

You might be looking to move from a full-time to a part-time career, or if you’ve been a stay a home parent since having kids, you might not want to jump straight into a full working week. Here are three options that might work for you:

1. Background in Nursing?

If you have a background in nursing, undertaking a diploma in Practice Management might be what you’re looking for next. You’ll likely be able to find shift work or a part-time role in the industry, meaning you will have an income but will still have time to be home with your kids.

2. Background in Administration?

Anyone who has worked in an admin role has a wealth of skills and knowledge that can be applied across most industries. However, they are often not the highest-paying roles. You can take the skills you have though and apply them to a diploma like Human Resources or Project Management. These jobs are higher paying and can sometimes have elements that can be done remotely from home, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice time with your family to increase your income.

3. Have Entrepreneurial Strengths?

If you’re more of an entrepreneurial type of person, you might have worked in sales or marketing in the past, meaning you could have a lot of great ideas for products or services of your own. If you complete a Business Diploma, you’ll gain the tools and confidence to start your own business. You’ll then be able to hire staff and work the hours that work best for you and your family.

Tips to find time to study online

If you are working as well as parenting, then well done! The key to success from this point onwards is time management, which is any parent’s best asset. To begin, honestly evaluate how many hours a week can be set aside to study.

Study Success Guide: How to Study when you have no Time

Are you sitting on the bus or train for an hour on your way to work? Use that time to study (perhaps by using your phone as a WIFI hotspot to your laptop). You might like to alter your existing work hours, so you are not travelling at peak times.

Another option is to take your annual leave more frequently, such as one day a fortnight, to dedicate that time to study. Even getting up half an hour earlier each day frees up about 15 hours a month.

Remember to be realistic. Do your research about which state and federal government assistance you might be able to receive, and use put that money towards a babysitter. Or be brave and ask for help from friends, family, work colleagues, or your neighbour. The College for Adult Learning’s online courses offer support from experienced learning coaches, who have lots of tips and resources to offer you.

Support yourself with a framework

Take time to set up a home study area and make your space as comfortable as possible. Shop around for a second-hand desk and ergonomic chair. Get a pot plant, or a fishbowl, or anything that ‘softens’ your study space and makes you feel good to be there.

Try to stick to a regular study routine in terms of hours per week as repetition breeds retention. Don’t feel guilty about taking frequent breaks and schedule them as part of your day. Stay fresh, stay focused, and remember that you are investing in a better work/life balance, a higher salary, and the pride of saying, “I did that!”

Achieving a diploma is possible as a single full-time working parent

What can I expect when I finish my diploma?

More Australians than ever are finding the value in more education. In 2006, 46% of Australians held a post-school qualification. Within a decade, that had jumped to 56% and has shown no sign of slowing down since. Employers are hungry for qualified and job-ready applicants to fill vacancies.

Qualifications open many doors, especially those that are endorsed by the industry’s governing body. Upon completing your diploma, you’ll have a broader range of job opportunities and be able to choose between full-time, part-time, or casual work. You’ll also be able to apply for higher-paying jobs that will create a stronger foundation for your financial future.

More industries are moving to an ‘off-site’ or working from home (WFH) model, where employees no longer need to travel to a designated workplace. You’ll have a head start of being seen as self-directed and reliable when compared against others who have not recently studied.

Employers will generally look favourably on an employee taking the initiative to self-improve and up-skill by studying online. Setting and communicating your career goals is the key to promotion and gaining a diploma qualification is a milestone step in that direction.

Gaining a diploma proves that you are willing to spend time investing in yourself. If you can manage that successfully (and you can) while juggling a family as a single working parent, that is even more impressive. Back yourself and go for it!

The Ins and Outs of Studying a Diploma