WASHINGTON, May 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- A new report released today by nonprofit Generation Hope identifies gaps for student parents in campus culture, policies, physical space and student services. The report, National Student Parent Survey Results & Recommendations: Uncovering the Student Parent Experience and its Impact on College Success, shares recommendations to support colleges and universities in increasing college completion rates of parenting students, who represent 1 in 5 undergraduate college students nationwide.
This survey highlights notable areas of opportunity for colleges and universities, including:
High numbers of student parents feel disconnected from their college community: Nearly half of respondents said they felt disconnected from their college community, and 40% indicated that they felt isolated as a parenting student on their campus.
Overall, 20% of respondents indicated they felt unwelcome on their campuses: Broken down by race, 30% of parenting Black students and 25% of parenting Hispanic and Latino students feel unwelcome, compared to 16% of parenting White students.
Family-friendly policies matter: More than 60% of respondents missed at least one day of class in their last semester due to lack of childcare, with 7% missing five or more days. Nearly 60% of student parents do not know if there is a campus policy on whether they can bring their children to class.
Student parents take note when their campuses lack family-friendly characteristics: More than a third of respondents did not see any family-friendly characteristics on their campuses.
Student services aren't designed for student parents: Securing affordable childcare is one of the most challenging things that parenting students face and yet, three-quarters of respondents said that their financial aid office did not inform them that child care expenses could be taken into account in the determination of their financial aid award, and that number increases to 79% for Black students.
"These findings echo the experiences of the young parents in college who we work with every day at Generation Hope," said Founder & CEO Nicole Lynn Lewis. "Higher ed came into this pandemic facing dropping enrollment. Now, as institutions grapple with the question of whether students will return in the fall, these findings will be even more crucial in assisting them in factoring in the needs of parenting students in their re-enroll and retention efforts."
"As a student-first company, we advocate for all students and, unfortunately, many student parents aren't getting the support that they need to be professionally and academically successful," says Chegg Director of Social Impact Lila Thomas. "By working with Generation Hope to better understand this growing population, we're shining a light on these issues and supporting their efforts to solve them."
Drawing on the national student parent survey findings, and building on Generation Hope's decade of supporting young parenting students through college, the report also includes recommendations for higher education institutions that want to improve their college completion and student success metrics for this population and other marginalized students. Recommendations for colleges include:
Collecting and tracking the parenting status of your students. Few institutions collect data on how many students are parents.
Applying a parenting student lens to your campus Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work.
Designating a staff position to champion the needs of parenting students across your institution.
Prioritizing the creation of family-friendly policies and ensuring they are clearly communicated to students.
Identifying ways to better include parenting students in campus life.
Incorporating student parent needs in your government relations work.
"When student parents rise, we all thrive," said Venture Partner Vinice Davis of Imaginable Futures. "Student parents are incredibly determined to thrive, but our current system is limiting. Acknowledging their existence and understanding their needs is a great first step to eliminating the barriers to their success. Supporting student parent postsecondary success will have ripple effects and return for themselves, their children, and society."
Founded in 2010, Generation Hope is a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC that surrounds motivated teen parents and their children with the mentors, emotional support, and financial resources that they need to thrive in college and kindergarten, thereby driving a two-generation solution to poverty. Fewer than 2% of teen mothers will earn their college degrees before they are 30 years old, yet Generation Hope Scholars graduate at a rate that exceeds the national average for all college students. Generation Hope engages in local and national advocacy work, amplifying the student parent voice and centering their experiences. Additionally, Generation Hope leverages its data and best practices to provide colleges with the tools, resources, and support that they need to improve outcomes for student parents.