I started college the same year my daughter started grade one. Being a student is difficult enough without the added responsibilities of being a parent, or going through pregnancy, but often, there is help. You just have to look for it.
When I first started my classes I let my teachers know I had a daughter and there was always a chance I might have to leave early or miss time. Almost all of my teachers are parents themselves and they have been very understanding but sometimes you need more support than that.
I decided to look into the different services offered at my school. The different services I came across included counseling, health services, financial aid, and daycare, all of which are on the main campus. The first place I decided to visit was the counseling services office because I figured if anyone at the college could point a pregnant or parent-student in the right direction for help, it would be a counselor.
The counselor I spoke with told me that common concerns pregnant and parenting students discuss with her include medical issues, finances, continuing with academics, community resources, dealing with stress, balancing life at home, daycare and the different options they have when it comes to pregnancy.
I can easily relate to almost all of these concerns.
She then showed me binders of resources for food, shelter, financial assistance, doctors and more in the area. Some of them I was already familiar with and have used in the past. Others were completely new to me. We also touched base on different services at the school.
For example, part of the college tuition automatically goes to health benefits. If a student wishes to add a dependent to their benefits through the college it’s an extra $382.50 for one child and $637.50 for two or more. These benefits include drug prescriptions and dental and can save you quite a bit of money (mind you, I live in Canada and we already have free health care).
There are also doctors on campus that students can see for a number of reasons such as pregnancy tests, prenatal care up to 26 weeks and birth control. There is even a room at the doctor’s office that can be used for breastfeeding or pumping milk in privacy. Although it’s best to try and book an appointment ahead of time, same day appointments are sometimes available and a walk-in nurse is available on-site during office hours. This can be very convenient for busy students.
Our financial aid office does not specifically set aside any money for pregnant and/or parenting students but I was told by the financial aid and awards manager that family size is one of the key variables used to determine financial support needed for awards, scholarships and bursaries. Many students don’t realize there are awards up for grabs and don’t even apply.
My school also has a daycare on site, an added bonus for any parents attending school. There is even a subsidy option for qualifying families who otherwise may not be able to afford daycare.
After finding out how much assistance was available at my school through my own research and willingness to reach out and call around, I couldn’t help but wonder if other people really knew about it. And to be honest, a lot of this information was not easily available. It’s not listed on their website or advertised anywhere in the school. I actually had to get on the phone and send out emails to get this information.
So if you are a pregnant or parent-student and are struggling, chances are your school has similar services, too. You just need to look for them. Chaunie from TinyBlueLines.com has a resource guide to help you figure out where to look for the services you need.