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Is Your College Kid-Friendly? How to Tell

Dec 9, 2011 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 1 Comments

Choosing a college isn’t easy—especially when you have kids. Whether you’re interested in going to a traditional or an online school, your college can make significant steps toward making college easier and more accessible to you and other students with kids. Nontraditional schools are more difficult to juggle with kids than online schools are, of course—but even nontraditional schools can take several steps to make life easier for parents who study. Here are some things you should look for when considering whether your college is kid-friendly.

They have day care

Not every college will take care of your kids while you’re in classes—but some will. Colleges as diverse as Skidmore, a private liberal arts school; and the University of Utah  and the University of Oregon, both large state schools, offer on-campus childcare programs. Stanford University even offers several on-campus nursery schools for kids as young as two months and as old as five years.

Mom and Daughter

College isn’t easy—especially not for students with children.


They offer scholarships for working parents

Some colleges specifically target working parents in their private scholarship programs. Usually, you’ll find this on the college’s website (if the information is there) under the category of “nontraditional” students. If the college doesn’t offer any online information regarding its private scholarships, talk to the financial aid office to see what programs they have to help students with kids.

They offer online classes

Online classes are often ideal for working parents. They allow you to log on and take classes from anywhere—no going to an in-person class required, and no need to get separate childcare. In addition, many online classes don’t have a set time—so you can schedule studying around your work, your childcare obligations, and other commitments without conforming to a set class schedule. Online classes often make a huge difference for students with kids, and many colleges—including traditional schools—are catching on. Look for a school that offers an online component.

There are on-campus organizations for students with kids

You can tell your university supports working parents if there are plenty of student-run organizations that cater to this audience. For example, the University of Missouri-St. Louis is home to Mu Tao Rho, a sorority for student moms. Other organizations that might be available could be social groups, group play-dates, and more.

They offer family dorms

Some colleges offer dorm apartments with multiple rooms, large enough for families—some even have play yards, such as Mills College’s Underwood Apartments. Pacific Union College, the University of Maine, the University of Vermont, and the University of Oregon also have family apartments.

It’s important to bear in mind that at many colleges, family housing is in high demand and there may be a wait list—so get your application for housing in as early as possible. In addition, colleges that don’t widely publicize their on-campus housing options for families may still offer at least a few apartments—you’ll have to be proactive in asking the college what they offer and in being persistent.

College isn’t easy—especially not for students with children. But your college can make things easier for you—and some nontraditional colleges do a lot for students with kids. Find out if there are any student organizations on campus that cater to on-campus parents. Look into the colleges online class offerings and their family dorm situation. And find out if they offer scholarships to students with kids, as well as on-campus day care. If they offer all of these things, chances are they’re a decent place for students with kids to go to school.


The Expert Over a year ago

Finances continue to be a problem for students. Even when the cost of attending classes at HCC are a fraction of the cost at a public 4 year university, many students still struggle getting the funds together in a timely manner. And HCC is working a lot more with students and figuring out what can be done. Unfortunately, this is not a problem restricted to HCC students; higher education students everywhere struggle to find money for their degree.

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