As any student will tell you, college can be one of the most demanding times in a person’s life. Between classes, jobs and a social life, there is very little free time. This situation is more stressful when the student is also raising a child.
Currently, around 26 percent of all undergraduate students are also parents, according to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
For these parents, every day can be a constant juggle of responsibilities which could be detrimental to their studies.
However, the University of New Mexico provides resources to assist student-parent’s academic success, while making sure they are also there for their children. One of these resources is the Parent Study Nights hosted at the University’s high-demand Children’s Campus.
Currently, the Children’s Campus serves around 350 children — 1,100 children remain on the waiting list. Plans to expand the Children’s Campus have been discussed by the Board of Regents since 2008.
“(We) decided we were going to implement study nights to remove the additional barriers that student-parents face,” said Victoria Dimas, program specialist at the Children’s Campus.
During these study sessions, any student-parent enrolled in a higher education institution may come to the campus, where the staff will not only watch their children for the three-hour session but also provide dinner free of charge.
“We actually receive funding through the Childcare and Adult Food Program so that we can provide dinner for the children here,” Dimas said.
The food program is also flexible for children who cannot eat certain foods due to allergies or religious preferences.
“My kids have a gluten intolerance,” said Victoria Martinez, a student-parent who utilizes the study nights. “And they actually provide substitutes, which is great.”
For many of these parents, such programs serve as a lifeline for their education, providing help where there would be none otherwise. An Endicott College study on parents at four-year universities found that 54 percent of student-parents identify as single parents.
While many programs for student-parents exist at UNM, getting that information to parents on campus has proved a challenge.
“That was a problem that I, as a parent, had,” said Jennefer Hansen, another student-parent. “Nobody knows what (the programs) are.”
The study night program is only in its second year, and Hansen is hopeful that it will continue to grow given the large amount of parents at UNM.
“It is such a huge population, but it is really, really underrepresented,” she said.
Student-parents can also find resources at the Women’s Resource Center, as well as at Lobo Parenting Cubs, an on-campus club created to support student-parents.
For the student-parents involved, having access to these programs benefits both them and their children.
“Just to be able to have peace and quiet and to have someone else feeding the children...really makes it a whole lot easier,” Martinez said.
The next study session will be held at the Children’s Campus, Dec. 5 from 5:30 p.m to 8:30 p.m.
Kyle Land is a news editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kyleoftheland.