Inequity

How to Support Student Parents

A nonprofit advocacy organization for students who are also parents has released a tool kit with recommendations for how colleges can best support those students.

Generation Hope held a focus group in July with the teen student parents it serves in the Washington, D.C., area. The Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation provided funding to create the tool kit.

Student parents are more vulnerable to stopping out of their programs. About half of undergraduate student parents left college without a degree within six years, compared to 32 percent of students without children, according to the tool kit. About half of student parents are students of color, and about half are more likely than their childless peers to have low incomes. Yet student parents tend to have higher GPAs than their peers.

To support student parents and retain them, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Generation Hope makes 10 recommendations, including:

  • Create or increase emergency aid for students, and remove barriers to access that aid.
  • Provide asynchronous learning options, as students' children may now be at home due to the pandemic. In the same vein, encourage faculty and staff to be more flexible during this time.
  • Include a student parent on any task force created for reopening.
  • Have faculty create family-friendly syllabi that acknowledge that some students are also parenting, and include student parents in any welcome emails.
  • Enhance support services, like advising and counseling, and build community through virtual events.
  • Offer virtual supports for the children of students, as well as parenting advice and activity supplies.
  • Create more support for these students by overcommunicating and being explicit with expectations.
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