High quality on-site childcare helps these students beat the odds and graduate


I met Butcher while spending a day watching the comings and goings at BMCC’s center in downtown Manhattan, which serves about 300 parents a year at the City University of New York’s largest undergraduate college campus. Childcare is offered on all of CUNY’s 17 campuses, a rarity at a time when many are cutting back.

I hoped to observe on-site, subsidized childcare, wondering how it might boost abysmally low graduation rates for student parents. There are many reasons why this issue matters, among them renewed concern about poor U.S. college completion rates. That means more attention is now being paid to the one in five college students who, as parents, are more likely to drop out, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

National data suggests that parents are 10 times less likely to complete a bachelor’s degree within five years than students who don’t have kids. At the same time, concerns over slipping enrollments means schools must attract more non-traditional students like Butcher, who attended college for a few years in her native Slovakia but left “due to lack of ambition and motivation,” she said.

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