If you have a child or children when you apply to university, you are going to face some extra challenges. But along with these challenges, you will also find that there is a massive level of support for student parents.
Whether you are 18 applying to university with a young child, or whether you are a mature student applying with a few school-age children, you already have some fantastic parenting skills that will help you succeed at university. Trust me, I know that being a parent is hard! But without even realizing it, you have already done some amazing things. Because you are a parent, you are better at time management. You are better at prioritizing tasks. You are better at multitasking, and you're better at seeing through tasks to completion. And this is all because a small person's life depends upon you. These are skills that you’ve acquired in your day to life, but they will also help you succeed at university.
Thankfully, many universities provide extra support to student parents. Many universities have halls geared towards student families, and most campuses have nurseries and childcare facilities on site. There are limits to the number of places that are available, however, so don't apply to a university and assume that you're going to get suitable accommodation. You may have to decide upon a university that's closer to your support network so that you can get extra help while getting your degree.
Every university in the U.K. has student parents enrolled, so you are not going to be the only person in this situation. There are going to be support networks. There are going to be clubs. There are going to be student societies, and they're going to be geared towards helping student parents like you. No university will withhold an offer just because you are a parent. They recognize the extra skills that come with being a parent, and they want the best students that they can possibly get, irrespective of personal circumstances.
When applying for student loans, you will be automatically considered as an independent student, which means your parents' income will not be considered. The result is that you will likely get a higher level of loan to cover your living expenses. The government's childcare grant will pay up to 85% of your childcare costs, and this is paid in a lump sum at the same time as your student loan. You can also get the parents' living allowance, which is paid as a lump sum that you don't have to pay back. If you're a lone parent or both parents are students, then you can qualify for extra benefits, such as income support and housing benefit.
If you’re a parent and you're considering applying to university, then it is an absolutely fantastic step. By making this choice, you are going to be improving your future job prospects, and you're going to be setting a great example for your children.