For people with children, enrolling into a Ph.D. program often means striking a difficult balance between managing hectic course work and dedicating time for childcare.
Although online programs have recently made it easier for many individuals to obtain a postsecondary degree, for those who want to participate in a in-person Ph.D. program, on-campus accommodations for children become an important concern.
According to the “College Students with Children” report, conducted by the Institute For Women’s Policy Research in 2017, there are currently more than 4.8 million student parents across the nation, predominantly residing in either the Southeast, Southwest or Great Lakes regions of the country.
The study found that parents with children, especially single parents, often have lower rates of degree attainment compared to traditional students. Furthermore, only 27 percent of single parents are able to attain a degree within six years of enrollment.
With this in mind, colleges and universities across the nation are taking the lead in addressing the concerns of these student parents by expanding on-campus family housing, daycare, children programs and support in other forms.
Family housing: For student parents who intend to enroll in an on-campus Ph.D. program, family housing is often their most important concern. In response, many higher education institutions like Ohio State University, Texas Woman’s University, the University of Oregon and Southern Illinois University offer on-campus accommodations which look more like apartments for married couples with kids.
Childcare: Managing time between rigorous course work and raising children also forces many student parents to halt their studies midway. However, nowadays, many universities host daycare facilities on campus or coordinate with community service providers to offer this resource. For example, Kent State University provides childcare options both on-campus and in surrounding areas; Ferris State University organizes educational and fun events for children; and St. Catherine University maintains a list of students willing to provide on-campus childcare.
Support Programs: Many universities also extend other forms of support to their student parents. So far these efforts have taken the forms of offering family resource centers, additional financial support to parents, counseling and family therapy, among others. In particular, each year the University of Alabama organizes a Family Resource Fair, has a family resource center, and hosts family activities at its outdoor recreation department. Minnesota State University also offers scholarships under its Mary Jane Young Scholarship for Re-Entry Women program for student parents.
Two higher education websites, bestcolleges.com and bestvalueschools.com, have ranked various colleges and universities on the basis of the support and services they provide to student parents from the undergraduate to the doctoral level as well.
Based on information from both websites, the top ten universities that offer on-campus child support facilities for Ph.D. students with children are St. Catherine’s University, Texas Woman’s University, Smith College, Kent State University, Middle Tennessee State University, the University of Michigan, Misericordia University, Eastern Michigan University, the University of Iowa and the University of Minnesota.