Real Students: Campus Housing and Child Care
Going back to school is stressful in itself, but deciding to go back to school when you have children who depend on you can be terrifying. Luckily, there are many campuses that provide family housing and daycare options.
You should also know that you’re not in this alone and support is there for student-parents. Here is how Jaci utilized on-campus family housing and child care to make her dreams of a degree come true.
“I was terrified to go back to school for so many reasons. I was moving hours away from my family with two children under the age of four to start a graduate program at a huge university that I felt had grossly overestimated my abilities in accepting me. Not to mention I would be living in a new city I had only visited a couple of times, and that was MUCH larger than anywhere I had previously lived. Despite all the intimidating factors, I knew it was the best option for our future.
Fortunately, the situation we found ourselves in was basically as ideal as it could have been. We moved into the University Family Housing complex just two blocks from the University where we were surrounded by other student families. This was perfect for my kids: there were dozens of other young children and the apartments are situated in a big circle with a large playground in the middle. Having a playground right out our front door and so many new little friends was heaven for my two kids. And having so many other parents going to school as well gave me a lot of good associations and extra help. Throughout the following two years of school, I found that I was surrounded by willing families ready to help with babysitting for study sessions, group project meetings, and other class-related necessities. It was a wonderful resource to be around so many supportive people that understood my situation and wanted to help.
With school only a month away, daycare accommodations for my kids was one of the biggest stressors for me. I didn't want my kids to end up in a gross, dirty, under-staffed daycare. I was especially concerned about my daughter. With cerebral palsy, she requires extra attention and cannot interact and play quite the same as other children. For these reasons, I knew most daycares wouldn't accept her. Not because they have biases against children like her, but primarily because they didn't have enough staff members and were not properly trained to handle special needs children. This had been my experience when I first became employed, and I had been forced to juggle a part-time nanny and other family members' schedules to help care for my kids while I worked. I knew I couldn't do the same for school, for financial reasons primarily, so I started looking at our options.
After calling almost a dozen daycares and getting the same discouraging responses, one of the other parents, also a single mom recommended the campus daycare to me. So I contacted the director and explained the situation with my daughter. They were more than just accommodating; they were delighted to include her in their program! They worked so well with me to get my kids in the right place that all my doubts and fears about daycares were quickly erased. The ASUU campus daycare was staffed entirely with senior and graduate-level childhood development students, all of whom had years of experience with all kinds of children. All the teachers that would be working with my daughter met with us before the semester started to learn everything they could about her and the program director worked very closely with me to make sure all our needs would be met. Both my children were welcomed into the program with open arms and loving enthusiasm, and for a single mom, this was more than I could have hoped for. My kids loved going to daycare every day and were constantly engaged in educational and unique activities that helped them learn and grow. This campus daycare was the biggest help for me while getting my degree. With my kids so happily situated in such a good program, I had the peace of mind to attend classes and the focus to complete the coursework without worrying about their well-being. With the resources I had found, I was able to complete my degree in the shortest amount of time possible.
Although there were obviously complications with getting a higher degree while trying to raise two small children, I will always say that it is one of the best decisions I've made for their future and for mine. Two years after I started, I graduated with my master's degree. We were all a little older, but the experience was a good one, and now I can look back at those two years and know that what I chose to accomplish will positively impact our lives forever. “