Juggling Kids and College

Raising a child is hard enough without trying to get a degree at the same time. According to a 2011 report by The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), nearly one-quarter of undergrads in the United States—3.9 million—are parents of dependent children. If you’re one of them, and you don’t have someone at home who’s able to watch your kids, here are some things to look for.

On-Campus Child Care

According to IWPR research, about half of public colleges and universities and less than 10 percent of private colleges and universities offer child-care facilities. Educationdepartment.org offers a comprehensive list of colleges, universities and vocational schools that offer on-campus child-care facilities. The U.S. Department of Education’s Child Care Access Means Parents in Schools (CCAMPIS) program gives campuses about $16 million every year to subsidize child care for low-income students. Ask your school if it was one of the recipients of the grant. (See the list of 2014 recipients here.) Be aware that even schools that do offer on-campus daycare often have waiting lists, so don’t wait until the last minute to ask.

Family Housing

For some, living on campus with their children makes attending college easier—not only by eliminating commuting and reducing housing costs, but also by making it easier to check on kids between classes. Some colleges and universities offer dedicated housing for families, from two-bedroom apartments in dorms to university-owned housing. Schools offering family housing include Wilson College, Misericordia University, Mills College, Brigham Young University and Smith College, among others.

Flexible Classes

Some schools offer weekend and night options for students who can’t attend daytime classes—a great option for those with partners or other family members who work during the day but are available for child care during non-work hours.

Support Systems

Many schools offer counseling or mentoring for students with children, as well as other supportive options like access to lactation rooms, study areas equipped with playrooms and the ability to bring your kids to eat with you in the dining hall.

To find the best schools overall for students with kids, check out BestColleges.com’s 2015 listing of the best four-year colleges for students with children. After evaluating schools for a number of factors, it names 54 top schools for student-parents. Topping the list is Purdue University, followed by University of Michigan, Middle Tennessee State University, University of Florida and University of Washington.

StartwithChange.com: Juggling Kids and College

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  • Adriana Gonzalez

    This article really helped me. As a single parent raising two kids, the options mentioned are valuable. Thanks

  • Jasmine

    I’m a mother of two, One of my children is a special olympic adult. What are some option for me?

  • Devine Osorio

    This article is eye-catching. I’m a single parent too raising two kids, truly all of these things to look for would help single parents to finish their education. Great article! Thanks.