Four Habits of Successful Student Mamas


by Amber Styles

Being a mom and being a college student are two of the most intensive efforts you may ever undertake. If you happen to be doing both at the same time, I promise you it *is* possible to feel some balance. The tips I’m sharing today were learned through my  own mistakes and missteps—hopefully reading them now will simplify your own path to graduation!

Research and reflect on your options.

If you are not currently enrolled in a school, take the time to learn about the tuition rates, financial aid
programs, and the atmosphere of different institutions near you (CollegeBoard search and President Obama’s College Scorecard are two great places to start).

You may prefer being on a campus with more non-traditional students where professors and peers relate more strongly with your day-to-day experiences. If you are thinking of studying online instead, make sure the school you enroll in is regionally accredited, and look into the distance learning options offered by your state’s public universities.

Be honest about your needs.

Your professors are educators because they care about helping students! Don’t be afraid to let them know when you are
facing personal circumstances that might prevent you from turning in work on time.

In my experience, most professors have generously granted extensions if a project coincided with an anticipated event (childbirth) or the unexpected (death in the family, sick baby, work conflict, etc.). Be sure to communicate the issue as early as possible so that you and your professor can agree on a solution before it is due.

Get organized.

Carry a planner or religiously record everything in a tool like Google Calendar. I found it helpful to sit down at the beginning of the semester and copy down every assigned reading, project, and exam listed on the syllabus. Doing so ensured that I wouldn’t lose track of homework amongst other work and family obligations. You will also be able to visualize the time remaining for large assignments and plan accordingly.

Take it easy.

You are not only providing for your child, you are showing them early in life that their goals are worth working hard for! Whenever you have a day off (or an evening, or just an hour), relax and remember why your education is important to you and your family.

I would wish you my best of luck, but you don’t need it. You are one badass, determined, multitasking mama!

Amber Styles was a student mama who worked full-time while completing her bachelor’s degree. She has been professionally involved in efforts to engage adult learners, K-12 students, and higher education professionals in
online learning platforms. Please feel free to reach out to her on Twitter (@ambertronnn) for any tips or support
related to this article!


  1. This post is very helpful. I’m currently expecting my first baby in May and still an undergrad in Elementary Ed. I recently switched to this major so I will no longer be graduating this year like I planned. The thought of balancing a new baby and being a full time student is beginning to worry me, but the post definitely helps me with my fears.