Having a child while in college often seems like an automatic death sentence for one‘s academic aspirations. That’s why so much focus is placed on pregnancy prevention, such as contraceptives and other serious measures.
According to the Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health journal, college-age women from 18 to 24 undergo 45 percent of all abortions. Another survey found that 71 percent of women 18 to 19 and 58 percent of women 20 to 24 who had abortions said having a baby would interfere with their education and careers.
Although many college students seem to avoid unplanned parenthood, those who don’t face a serious question: As a soon-to-be parent, should they stay in school?
The answer is yes.
I have attended USF full time since 2006 despite the birth of three children in that time, and so has their mother. While it is tough, it is certainly doable.
Visiting the Financial Aid Office should be the first step. For some scholarships, the award amount varies and having dependents increases the award. Contacting different state and federal-run social services is important as well. It is difficult to argue against these program’s benefits as a social investment.
Medicaid for mothers and children often cover all medical expenses. The Department of Children and Families offers food stamps, and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits also serve as helpful resources.
It takes creativity and, most importantly, flexibility. If both parents are students, schedule classes at opposite times for child-care purposes. Single parents should look into hourly child-care while in class; it can be much less expensive than daycare. There are also subsidized child-care programs that are available from the federal and state governments.
Finding a place to live can be tough. Living with your partner or with family is a great idea, as it significantly cuts cost.
But by all means, students should make every effort to finish college.
According to 2008 statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate among those 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree was 2.8 percent, with a weekly median income of $1,012. Those with only a high school diploma faced a 5.7 percent unemployment rate and weekly median income of $618.
The importance of a college degree is even higher for those with children. Whether parents stay in school or not, they will suffer financially and perhaps become a recipient of social services. It’s better to continue an education and leave the door open for higher wages and a better life.
The financial security that accompanies a college education is obvious, and it serves as a major reason why many originally enroll.
Having a child does not alter this reality; it only exaggerates its consequences. The low pay and limited economic security that comes with only having a high school diploma are not going anywhere.
Continuing an education under difficult circumstances offers a glimmering example of fortitude, which would serve to potentially inspire one’s own children.
Justin Rivera is a senior majoring in history.