Student parents have unique, fulfilling experience

By Tracy Moronatty

Being a college student is tough, but being a college student while being a parent is extra: extra work, extra motivation and extra determination, but also extra need.

College students worry about when homework is due, reading assignments, paying tuition and buying books. If students are working, a school and work schedule is something that needs to be managed.

Student parents worry about all of their school obligations plus if their children are achieving milestones.

They have extra worry about paying for diapers, clothes, toys and other necessities for a child.

Student parents have to manage school, work and childcare schedules.

Balancing family and school is a skill that student parents must develop quickly.

Even with the best management, things can still happen, so student parents also need to learn to be flexible.

If the children get sick and the student parent stays home, then the student parent might get sick as well and have to stay home.

Then it is school and work missed, so now the student parent is behind in school, work and short on rent.

Student parents must be creative when their child wants to play when they should be studying for a big test.

They could combine these two needs and do something like playing school.

The student parent could play the teacher and teach them what they are studying. The child will ask questions that can help ace the test.

In the end the child just wants to bond with their parents.

The child gets to bond with their parent along with learning what the parent is studying.

Student parent life can be lonely at times.

A quarter of undergraduate students are parents, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in their Students Parent Success Initiative (2014).

There are 4.8 million college students, 71 percent are women and 43 percent of them are single mothers.

Student parents are economically struggling where one in five millennial parents live in poverty, according to a youth advocacy group called Young Invincibles in a 2015 report, “Finding Time: Millennial Parents, Poverty and Rising Costs.”

Forty-three percent of student parents live under the federal poverty line, according to data from the Department of Education in the 2011-12 school year.

The Institute for Women’s Policy stated that the availability of on-campus childcare at four-year institutions was at 54 percent in 2002 and decreased to 51 percent in 2013.

Schools can support student parents by having support groups or clubs.

The schools can create a parent-friendly environment by recognizing student parents’ achievements.

They can raise awareness of student parents’ hardships to create empathy among their peers.

There should be forums to create a safe space for student parents to speak about their experiences and needs.

Being a parent and a college student is not ordinary, it is extraordinary.

Student parents

Robert Diep / The Poly Post

Student parents

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