Student parents make up about a quarter of all college students but are often not considered in research in the same way as their non-parenting peers. Student parents’ lives were especially disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, making their pursuit for education and financial independence yet more challenging.
To investigate, Assistant Professor Meredith Manze, along with three former CUNY SPH students, sought to understand the barriers faced by student parents during the first wave of Covid-19 in New York City. Through in-depth interviews with 37 students, faculty, and staff at six community colleges within CUNY, the researchers found that all participants recognized the magnified and expanded roles and responsibilities of student parents. Students discussed the challenges they endured and the strategies they implemented in order to get by.
The research found that support from faculty and staff was critical to the academic persistence of student parents. Increased faculty flexibility and synthesizing information about remote resources can help student parents better manage during the pandemic, the authors say.
“Our findings can help institutions, especially our own at CUNY, identify areas of needed support and intervention for students with children to thrive and complete their degree, both during a pandemic and beyond,” says Manze. “Such support will have implications for two generations.”