Eastern Michigan University Working To Boost Graduation Rates Of Single Parents
Attending college is always a challenge, but doing so as a single parent makes it even more difficult. Over 50 percent of single parents attending college in the U-S don't graduate within six years. A pilot program starting next semester at Eastern Michigan University looks to boost those graduation numbers.
EMU Regent Beth Fitzsimmons says it's terrible when a student can't complete their college degree because they have to raise their child. She gave birth to a daughter during spring break of her junior year and knows some of the challenges of being a parent and student. "Managing my classes, the labs, feeding my daughter, breast feeding my daughter. But fortunately, I had a good support system, so that made it possible," Fitzsimmons says.
Fitzsimmons' help came from a husband and family that could provide child care, but many parents in college don't have this type of family assistance. EMU wants to put in place a better support system for single parents.
Ellen Lassiter Collier is the Women's Resource Center Program Coordinator. She says one concern was far ahead of all others in a survey of over one-thousand single parents on campus. "Child care in general is kind of a disaster in the United States and we can't solve all of the woes of child care. But what we can do is help provide the services needed and child care needed for our students to actually graduate," Collier says.
This includes grants to help pay for childcare at licensed facilities in Washtenaw County and a drop-in facility for school aged kids at night. Collier says they're developing a system to give single parents priority in registering for classes to limit the number of times a week they need to come to campus.
The plan also includes hiring a single parent student resource coordinator that will be able to develop programs and connect parents to public benefits.
The pilot program launches in January.