With a tight labor market—December’s unemployment rate was only 3.5%—and a looming demographic cliff, some institutions are looking to tap into a historically underrepresented group in higher education—students who are also parents. Bringing those prospective students into the fold, however, isn’t easy.
SimpsonScarborough’s 2022 National Prospective Student Survey report noted that “more than 1 in 5 students has a child.” Notably, responsibilities such as child care make it “challenging to attend a traditional, four-year, in-person, full-time higher education institution.”
Due to the fact that campuses can no longer focus solely on traditional students, Brittani Williams, a senior policy analyst at The Education Trust, feels that it is high time institutions look more closely at how they engage with student parents, a group that has “historically been overlooked.”
Williams knows firsthand the difficulties of parenting while in school, having done so throughout her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She is now working toward her doctorate while supporting her family.
“Student services on campus do not consider the ways in which they have to operate on campus,” she said about student parents. “That means in terms of course availability, child-care availability and even hours of availability for student programming to support degree persistence.”