February 5, 2023

The unique college experience of student parents

While the college experience is similar for many, those who are parents have a unique set of challenges. The university has multiple resources available to students that may be especially helpful to parents. 

Academic Success can help students with children make a manageable academic plan that accounts for parenting responsibilities. The Cap Cupboard can provide free food and hygiene items to students in need. If students need assistance creating a class schedule that works with their childcare schedule, they can be connected with an academic advisor. 

Along with these resources, there are specific protections and accommodations students with children may qualify for under Title IX or Accessibility Services

Deanna Wagner, the university’s Title IX Coordinator, said accommodations are individual to each student and their needs. 

“Pregnant students and students who have recently had children are protected from discrimination under Title IX,” Wagner said. “This protection includes things like short-term accommodations for class and other university activities, assistance with scheduling time for pumping or nursing, and other reasonable accommodations, including excused absences, make-up assignments, incomplete course grades, and more.”

Additionally, if pregnancy related conditions rise to the level of temporary disability, students may qualify for protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In this case, students would be required to follow the registration process and submit documentation according to Accessibility Services’ policies.

When it comes to parents with older children, Title IX is likely not applicable.

“Title IX specifies the following in terms of timeline ‘pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy or recovery there from.’ That said, support services across campus are available… to support students with their individualized needs,” Wagner said. 

Kailey Beach, a 21-year-old fourth year student, had a baby during her third year at the university.

“I got married young,” Beach said. “I mean a lot of students don’t get married in college and I got married my second year. A lot of people don’t have babies their third year of college, but I did.”

Kailey Beach (left) with her husband and son at a pumpkin patch. Photo courtesy of Kailey Beach.

Beach said being a mom in college has had its challenges and rewards. 

“The most rewarding thing is honestly being a mom,” Beach said. “I love that, I love everything about that. Some of the struggles is finding the time to balance school life, home life, being a mom, being a wife… not being able to find time for even myself.”

When Beach found out she was pregnant, she was concerned about being able to graduate on time. She said the faculty at the university were extremely helpful in assisting her with her needs. 

“Honestly I’ve had a really great experience here with any faculty,” Beach said. “Deanna [Wagner] working with Title IX and stuff, she was really helpful when I found out I was pregnant. I literally had no idea what I was going to do cause I had him during spring break last year, so literally in the middle of a semester. So Deanna Wagner was really great at making sure I had any resources that I needed… making sure I wasn’t being discriminated against.”

Kailey Beach and her son. Photo courtesy of Kailey Beach.

After giving birth, Beach was able to continue completing her schoolwork online. 

“When I had my baby, I literally just emailed [my professor], ‘Hey, I had my baby’ and they were like ‘Alright, you’re going to be online for the rest of the semester’. So I had one in person class that I just went online the rest of the semester. Then the other online class just stayed online. I had no issues, they let me make up work as I needed to,” Beach said. 

Andrew Grangaard, a 45-year-old Capital student seeking his teaching license, is also a parent taking classes at the university. He shared how he balances being a dad and a college student.

“It all comes down to time management,” Grangaard said. “For me, time management is critical. I have to balance taking time for my school work with study time and [time with my daughter], and not just doing the essentials like making lunch for her school or with homework, but just spending time with my daughter, playing with her, hanging out with her and just being a dad in general.”

Grangaard also said his experience of being a student and a parent during his time at the university has been pleasant. 

“[The faculty is] very understanding but also kind of hands-off, which is fine because I don’t expect any special favors or treatment for being a dad,” Grangaard said. 

Students should reach out to Deanna Wagner (dwagner1453@capital.edu)or the Director of Accessibility Services, Ashley LeMaster (alemaster3@capital.edu), to receive support or additional information.

  • Ava is a senior Criminology major with a Journalism minor and she loves to do investigative reporting.

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