Barriers and Supports for Student-Parents in Higher Education
Keywords:student-parents, higher education, postsecondary services, student success, student well-being, student life, parenting students, students with children, student affairs
Students who are also parents (student-parents) are unique and often underrepresented in postsecondary settings. Balancing the responsibilities of home life alongside academic pursuits is often challenging for students in general and for some student-parents even more so. Faculty and students in a partnership project at a mid-size university in Alberta, Canada, took on a small study to examine student-parent experiences at their university. The partner team describes how a unique blend of student-faculty collaboration looked at supports, barriers, and higher education student norms relating to student-parent experiences. This study looked at the available literature as a foundation to identify the concerns facing students who are parents in higher education settings, as well as the policies and practices of postsecondary institutions that support student-parents. Survey and focus group methods aided in our understanding of the lived experiences of student-parents and their views of support within the university. Recommendations for institutional policy and practices for more supportive learning environments for student-parents include accessible childcare, information about campus resources, faculty awareness and compassion, and facilities on campus that can foster a sense of belonging.