College is already stressful, and for single parents, the challenges can be even bigger.
More than one in five college students — or 22 percent of all undergraduates — are parents, according to data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study published by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The data showed that the majority, about 62 percent, of mothers in college are single parents, while 61 percent of fathers in college are married.
While many students already struggle financially, single parents at the college also have to worry about finding affordable child care in addition to their other responsibilities.
“It’s difficult being a single mother in college because the issues I mainly deal with are finding daycare for my child and balancing college work with my personal life,” said Mary Havrid, a Salt Lake Community College business major.
According to the student aid study, of the 3.8 million students raising children while in college, about 70 percent are mothers and 30 percent are fathers, which includes SLCC engineering major Jason Peterson.
“Finding time to study and do homework is difficult when you’re having to take care of a child at the same time,” he said. “It takes a lot out of you, so it’s important to be mentally prepared.”
Another issue many single parents encounter is the stress of juggling classes, work and the pressures of parenting. This often leads students who are parents to take fewer college courses or drop out of college, according to a briefing paper published by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
“Time management is crucial, because in college you have to keep in mind all your due dates and write them down in a planner,” said Duxiana Ruiz, a SLCC general studies major. “If you don’t plan ahead, then you’ll risk not being able to do them because you have to take care of your child.”
Ruiz said she spends the majority of her time doing school work and working her job, lowering the amount of time she gets to spend with her children.
“My professors are super understanding, but it is frustrating when the only time I can study or do work is when my baby is asleep,” Ruiz said.
SLCC offers many resources to help student parents, including scholarships to help with college expenses, child care assistance vouchers for campus day care centers and sessions at the Center for Health and Counseling.