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Parents in college must juggle responsibilities

by Garang Wol
Parenting and going to college at the same time is not an easy thing to do.

It’s a full-time job especially for single parents. Being a parent and attending school at the same time is very challenging, according to CPCC Family Resource Center coordinator Linda Jones.

The most important things parents in college have to deal with right now is money, time management and finding good-quality childcare.

Nedine Muwne, is a mother of three children and is in the dental program at CPCC. Muwne, 29, and her husband both work and attend classes at CPCC. “My husband and I needed more than day care for our children especially when the 11- years-old gets home from the school and if the day care center is closed for the other two children,” she said.

“For working parents, balancing jobs, children and school can be tough, but we are parents and we have no choice. The only way is to understand a situation we are in,” she Muwne.

The only assistance the parents in school get is childcare money and financial aid. “They get money to pay for their school fees and books,” said Sara Graham, program director for TRIO- Student Support Services.

It’s not easy for the parents to make it on their own, to be in school and take care of children. “The most important thing is childcare,” she said.

Parents in college have encountered problems with time. “Studying and taking care of children is not the only thing they do in their life,” she said. Parents always have to plan what they’re going to do first in the morning before they come to school or go to work, "which is very important, but it’s not easy for the parents,” she said.

Jones also said the situation is not the same for all the parents in the college. “Some have support from their family, close relatives or friends to help them either financially or to take care of the children when they are at school or at work.” Those parents seem to be more well off than the single parents, she said.

I always encourage them that you are doing so wonderful and I am happy. I want them to be successful in their life,” Jones said.

Katrice Smith, a single parent of two children, 11-year- old Kierra and 11-month- old Kyla, is in the respiratory therapy program at CPCC. “It’s not an easy thing to be a parent and a student at the same time,” said Jones.

Smith, 28, lives with grandparents who sometime help take care of the children. She works full time and comes to school part time. “I have a choice," she said, “to extend my education or become part of the system of welfare which I feel is not a productive option."

Smith also emphasizes “I am very fortunate to have my grandparents helping me to take care of my children when I’m at work or in school and also I get food stamp from the Department of Social Services, but that is not what I want for myself and my children,” she said.

Curtis Bickham, works as a part- time adviser with CPCC, Transfer Resource Center. “According to my previous experiences parents in school have a lot of problems with time management because of the children and school,” said Bickham.

He also added “Parents in college always used the school resources more effectively than traditional-age students, because they are mature enough to understand how valuable the school resources are for them.”

According to a Sept. 1998 issue of “Parenting,” “Going to school on top of being a parent and worker can be quite stressful," says Marsha Padwa, a psychology instructor at the Harvard Medical School, who conducts seminars on work-family balance for parents in the Boston area.
“Juggling job and family is tough enough. Yet there's a sizable group of moms and dads trying to balance yet another demand: college.”

More than one-fifth of all undergraduates are parents, according to recent reports from the National Center for Education Statistics. Of these moms and dads, approximately 75 percent hold down a job with more than half of them logging over 35 hours a week.