Single parents throughout the state recently attended the Moms2College Fair hosted by the Single Mothers Academic Resource Team (SMART). The college fair was developed based on traditional college recruitment efforts, yet modified to meet the needs of single parents.
According to SMART, this was the first multi-campus college fair anywhere in the United States specifically geared toward single mothers. There are approximately 30,000 single parents in Oklahoma.
Representatives from 17 colleges and universities and 16 community service agencies set up booths where participants could get information on everything from education programs and scholarships to health care and abuse prevention. Free child care was available as the parents visited the booths.
“Collaborative efforts like this are needed to address the growing number of single parent students in Oklahoma,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “The Moms2College fair provides assistance to an underrepresented group of students to ensure that they have access to an affordable college education and the services needed to obtain that education.”
Two financial aid workshops were offered as well as a Financial Aid Expert Center so participants could ask questions and take home the Free Application for Student Aid form (FAFSA). Participants were fully informed about how much it costs to attend college and how far a financial aid package can go. They were also taught to compare the costs of attending college while considering which program would work best with their academic goals and family needs.
Participants also attended sessions on what they must accomplish to be successful college graduates from an academic standpoint and how to balance family needs with college goals.
According to the Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma, more than 40 percent of the poor households in Oklahoma are led by single mothers. The state is ranked 45th nationally in terms of economic autonomy for women, and only one in seven Oklahoma women completes four or more years of college.
While many single mothers understand a college degree would improve their living circumstances and are open to furthering their educations, they may believe they aren’t academically and financially prepared. The majority of single mothers are first-generation college students and often find college campuses intimidating.
In 2008 the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education received a SMART grant from the Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma to encourage single mothers to pursue and complete a college education and to provide them with information on overcoming real and perceived barriers.
For more information contact Erin Taylor , coordinator of academic affairs projects, at 405.225.9163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.