The Inspiring Way This College Is Helping Student Parents
Being a student-parent during college isn't exactly a piece of cake, and I would definitely know this since I had my first daughter while I was going to college.
Well, actually, I had my first daughter precisely seven days to the day after I graduated college, but that's a different story. The point is is that pregnant and parenting students in college face a few extra challenges that traditional students may not, but in an ironic twist of fate from the universe, the stakes are actually even higher for student parents to succeed since, you know, they have another person (or persons!) depending on them.
It's my hope to see every college and university that is equipped to handle any extra accommodations — accommodations that a pregnant student or a parenting student might need to finish their education — in a manner that is no different than any other student requiring accommodation. In fact, I think it shouldn't even be an issue that is debatable or discussed on a college campus because it should just be plain old fact that resources are available.
Need to take an online class so you won't die of morning sickness? Done. Need to take a semester off to give birth? Totally fine. Need a little flexibility to account for doctor's appointments, bed rest, or breastfeeding? Don't even sweat it.
Obviously, we have a long ways to go in this little dream world of mine, but I really believe that in order for us all to see a world where caring for pregnant women, families, and very young children is more valued than it is in the current world we live in, it will start with recognizing that (gasp!) sometimes pregnant students go to college.
Which is why I was so encouraged to have recently come across a community college in Virginia that is definitely leading as an example of how to best help pregnant and parenting college students. In addition to having an entire page dedicated to Pregnant & Parenting Students (no, really, that's the title of the page), the college offers the following services for expectant and current student parents:
- Campus workshops on parenting education, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking awareness and prevention of both
- Referrals to academic support services and programs
- Referrals to resources for health services
- Referrals to social services and community resources
- A need-based scholarship for child care expenses
- Mother’s rooms for lactation and breastfeeding (by appointment only), which can be found at four different locations around campus.
I'm not sure why there has to be an appointment for breastfeeding, and honestly, that seems awfully inconvenient for breastfed babies, who, I can assure you, do not follow an appointment schedule for their meals (understatement of the year), but still, these resources are a step in the right direction.
The college even has a social media presence for parents and also offers a support group to help connect student parents on and off campus as they complete their education with a sidekick (or two) in tow. I think it's such a positive move to see a campus recognizing their student parents on campus and not shunning them for being a drain on time or resources.
No one is more motivated to finish their degree than pregnant and parenting parents, and I hope other colleges follow in their footsteps by showing a little encouragement to student parents.
Did your school offer help and support to pregnant and parenting students?