More than one in five college students are parents, but student parents are often under-recognized on college campuses. This blog post is the third in a series highlighting the experiences of student parents, including the challenges they face, and the resources and supports that help them succeed. Find other IWPR resources on student parents at the Student Parent Success Initiative page on IWPR.org.
Attends a four-year, private college in Kentucky
Pursuing an undergraduate degree in Child Development
Parent of a nine-year-old
Why I enrolled in school
I wanted to enroll in school because I have always loved school, was always encouraged to do well in school, and I wanted to have a good future. College is a way to have a brighter future for my family. I also want to set a good example for my child by going to college. I expect my child to go to college and complete schooling no matter what. Getting through college despite all the challenges is being a good role model for my child.
College is a way to have a brighter future for my family.
What it’s like being a single parent
It has been a struggle, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Do I want to improve things for myself and my peers? Absolutely. However, I have built strong bonds with other student parents at my school by going through this struggle side-by-side with them. It is almost like a club! One situation that keeps presenting a challenge to us is finding child care while our children are sick. How do we go to school and/or work when our child can’t go to school or care programs during times of illness? This is especially a problem for those with jobs with strict requirements or classes with strict attendance policies. Also, if you are a single parent, there is no other parent to stay home with the child. It isn’t even an option. What do you do?
It has been a struggle, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
You calculate how bad missing class will mess up your grade and either take the hit to your grade, or email your professor and pray they let you bring your child to class with you. We are trying to get something done on campus about adding a provision in the attendance policy for student parents with sick children, but nothing has come of this yet.
The costs and benefits of going to school for me and my family
I will be honest: the time away from my child hurts most. I would love to be a stay-at-home mom, but that is not an option for me. Right now, I am a student-mom, a working-outside-the-home-mom, a single-mom, a stressed-out-beyond-belief-mom who doesn’t feel like anything she is doing is working.
Time is the biggest issue for sure.
I am always having to let something slide to meet the demand of something else. Homework takes away quality time with my child, housework takes away time from my homework, class time takes away time from my housework, etc. Something is always slipping. Luckily, I have a great scholarship, so money has mostly been secure for me. There have been financial struggles, but they are probably not the same as others have suffered. Time is the biggest issue for sure. I think school is worthwhile because it only lasts a few years and then I will have the degree forever. It is just hard to do the daily grind.
Supports that would be helpful to college success
I would not be able to attend school without child care. It absolutely would not happen. I am now receiving state assistance for child care, so that is wonderful. I think having things be as efficient, convenient, and streamlined as possible makes things doable for student parents. Living close to your school helps, living close to your child’s school helps, having child care as close to campus as possible helps, etc. I would like for the schools to be more accommodating to student parents in things like absences, graduation requirements, etc. It is not always possible for us to do the things other students do.
I would not be able to attend school without child care.
Hopes for after graduation
I want to take a short break and then go on to a graduate school program for Marriage and Family Therapy. I want to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist to help people facing challenges like the ones I have faced in my life.
One thing that others might be surprised to know
Homework can’t start until after the kids are in bed! We pull all-nighters for totally different reasons! We can never procrastinate because there’s too much to do.
We can never procrastinate because there’s too much to do.
Policy change that could better support student parents’ success
I think all college campuses should have child care for student parents accepted into their colleges for kids ages 0-12. I think having certain work requirements to access state assistance is prohibitive to student parents because they are already in school. For example, my state recently changed the rules for child care assistance to say that full-time students do not have to work 20 hours a week to get assistance. This made all the difference for me.
We make our society healthier, happier, safer, and more functional when we educate mothers.
The benefits of investing in student parents
More college students being able to successfully complete their degree programs improves communities by stimulating the economy. When I graduate and become qualified for jobs that pay more, I will no longer need to receive public assistance. I will be paying more taxes that go towards support programs that help others. Also, investing in student parents helps alleviate child poverty, and childhood poverty comes with all sorts of risk factors for other problems later on. We make our society healthier, happier, safer, and more functional when we educate mothers. In addition, children see the benefit of pursuing a college education. Learning becomes a family value that is passed along to the child. The individual child and society gain benefits further down the road.
Learning becomes a family value that is passed along to the child.