Family

Improving College Outcomes for Students who are Single Parents

0 Comments 02 August 2017

It is much harder for single parents to graduate with a bachelor’s degree than students without children. According to an analysis of data from the Beginning Postsecondary Students longitudinal study, only a fifth of single parents earn a bachelor’s degree in six years, much lower than the two thirds of students who are not single parents.

Single parents who are students also tend to graduate with more student loan debt. College graduates who are single parents are 25 percent more likely to graduate with student loan debt than students who are not single parents and the average debt is about a fifth greater.

Students who are single parents also are likely to work full time, making it harder to focus on their studies. They are bogged down with earning a living, paying for childcare and managing within the schedules of babysitters. Students who work more than 12 hours a week are much less likely to graduate than those who don’t.

There are easy fixes to helping students who are single parents graduate. They include the following:

  • Providing affordable childcare on campus. Colleges often provide this service for faculty and staff and it should be extended to students. The care can range depending on the age of a child. After-school programs are appropriate for older children while toddlers and babies will need daycare.
  • Set up on-campus housing and transportation for students with families. Living on campus makes it easier for students to get to class and other academic functions. If a student lives off campus, they might have to miss classes or study sessions because of distance. Additionally, colleges can help provide transportation for students who live off campus.
  • Flexible class options. Students with children need classes in the evenings and the flexibility to schedule around work and childcare. Colleges should evaluate these options and work with students to ensure they can meet their needs at home and in the classroom.

For more insights, see How to Improve College Success for Single Students with Children.

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