Parents balance studies with children

Yvette Ordonez

They have no social life.

Their life is fuller of responsibility than the average student.

Getting calls from off-campus day care during class and missing their children aren’t problems the average student experiences.

To top it off, MSU does not offer day care and has few special events for families.

“There have been plenty of times where I’ve been doing school work and my son comes in the room begging me to play with him or read him a book,” said Marisa Chandler, junior in nursing and mother of one. “It definitely makes it more difficult to focus on what I’m doing because I don’t want school to take away any more of my time with him than it already does.”

Some students increase time with their families by living on campus. Bridwell Courts provides a “home away from home” to students on campus. It includes a full-size kitchen and bathroom. Parents at Midwestern are only allowed to stay at Bridwell, nowhere else. The monthly cost for a one bedroom dorm is $743.75 and the two bedroom cost is $875 a month. This quiet community established on campus also rents to upperclassmen. However, there is no day care provided for the children of these students.

Despite the difficulties, Chandler finds a way to make it work.

“Being a good mom to my son is my number one priority but doing so entails making a future for us,” Chandler said. “A day care on campus wouldn’t do much for me at this point because my child has just started pre-k. I think that something like that would be extremely beneficial to parents at MSU. It definitely would have been for me the past few years!”

Other parents on campus know the struggle. Father and sophomore social work student, Richard Alejandro, deals with having to find time to study. He does it when his three children are asleep.

“I always have to find someone to watch the kids. My wife works while I’m at school. Managing my time is very important,” Alejandro said.

Parents on campus all feel that a day care would be helpful and convenient for them. Finding time to study and being a good parent proves to be difficult in a student’s already stressful timetable. Time for studying is an issue for some parents.

“Having a child definitely makes studying a little harder. A lot of my studying has to be done after he goes to bed at night so I’ve spent many long nights studying until 3 am or later. I study in the morning, between classes, and after work. It doesn’t necessarily affect my grades, but I do have to work a lot harder to earn them,” Chandler said.

Neither Truman State nor Angelo State offer day care to their students. Nor do they have specific housing for students with children.

“Having an affordable campus-based day care would allow more students to make college doable. They could drop their child off, go to class, and come pick them up afterwards. I don’t see how that would be anything but beneficial to students,” Chandler said.

A social life is out of the question when a student has a child, a job, and school to deal with.

“I suppose it doesn’t affect my personal life in a negative way. It’s just more limited. I don’t get to go here and there, nor do I get to stay up all night and watch movies. It’s very constricted,” said Brooke Shewmake, a sophomore in social work and mother of one.

Having to help their own children with their schoolwork interferes with their own. Chandler, along with other parents at the university, hardly do anything outside of school and raising their children. And although Midwestern doesn’t offer day care, the students find a way to make it work. Always being on the go is part of it.

“I am literally always on the go between school, clinical work, and spending time with my little man. At this point in my life, the most important thing is setting an example for my son and providing him with the life he deserves,” Chandler said.

Melissa Laussmann, senior in English and mother of one, said, “I don’t have a social life. I don’t have a life.”

Laussmann manages to stay on the president’s list while being a single mother. She said that she cannot always give her all. She said she is limited and has to work harder than other students in her classes.

“It is hard. I don’t regret her, but school would be easier without a kid,” Laussmann said.

Tarleton State has special housing for families, including a day care for their parent-students and programs.

“The RL (residential leader) is currently planning a day at the park for our students with children,” said Aspen Emery, housing resident secretary at Tarleton.

Still, the students who are parents do not receive special treatment and plan to earn their degree the same way as any other student.

“I will not invest weakness or a victim mentality into my daughter’s thinking process. Everything is done accordingly, as long as one’s faith is in the right place,” Shewmake said.

Shewmake said self control and discipline are crucial when having a child. Adding work to the mix only makes it harder for her. She found inspiration through having a child.

“I do not regret her life at all. I don’t find her an inconvenience. I believe had she not been born I wouldn’t be so dedicated or motivated as I am today,” said Shewmake.

Day care or not, a parent that is also a student has to make sacrifices. Time with their children is one of them.

“I don’t enjoy devoting so much of my time at home with him to school work but I know that if I can just make it to graduation and provide him with the life he deserves then I’m fulfilling my responsibility as a parent,” Chandler said.