The path of a student is one that is often filled with chaos as one strives to fill every role they are expected to fill as adults. In many instances, the student finds they bit off more than they can chew, and these different roles will often suffer for it as a student works hard to complete their education.
But what if one role cannot suffer?
No matter the assignments that pile up or the test that must be studied for, one role that certain students cannot let suffer is that of a parent.
Being a mother or father and a student is no easy task, but it is one that must be embarked on for many individuals if they wish to continue their education past high school or an associate’s degree.
The reasons parents attend college vary and are often a lot more complicated than what meets the eye. Some students pursue education only to have to drop out for years until they can afford to return after tuition or bills increase.
Sometimes the cost of universities is staggering to large families, and so despite the fact that parents’ income is counted on financial aid forms until the student reaches a certain age, many young adults receive no contributions from parents for college.
Whatever the reasons for a parent to become a student, they understand the importance of both roles. They understand what their college goals are, and they understand what they must do to overcome the obstacles they face.
Often they are not alone.
When a parent takes on this task of pursuing higher education, the amount of appreciation they have for those who help is immense. Being a mother of a toddler myself, I fully understand that pursuing my bachelor’s degree would be an impossible task if not for my mother and sister, who watch my son dutifully three times a week.
So as a parent, when I hear of someone reaching out to other student parents, I cannot help but feel a little grateful. UNM Career Services recently announced in collaboration with the UNM Children’s Campus and Lobo Parenting Cubs Student Parent Chartered Organization, which will provide free child care to student parents who intend on participating and opens up dialogue for student parents to talk about the challenges they face.
Whether or not all student parents can attend, the creation of the event itself is reassuring and encouraging. The world of college is not going to make exceptions for student parents, a fact that many of these parents know. After all, a parent cannot predict that they will be too exhausted to complete a test because they stayed up with their child all night because of a nightmare or a cold. Children are unpredictable, especially to first-time parents.
The chance to be involved in an open dialogue lends a voice to those who have children and pursue an education.
“Student parents have a non-traditional way of going through college,” the event announcement states. “This group will give those parents a place to process specific challenges that are faced.”
Indeed, being a student parent is a non-traditional way to go through college, but with a solid support system and the opportunity for dialogue at events such as these, the pursuit of education is not impossible. All students face challenges in college, traditional and non-traditional alike.
Opening up a dialogue for a group such as student parents shows them that while they struggle to overcome the challenges they face, there are others doing it right alongside them. It may not be the traditional path of a student, but it’s still a path worth pursuing.
Nichole Harwood is a news and culture beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers alumni and art features. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or on Twitter @Nolidoli1. The views presented in this column are her own.