Students balance careers, family

While some students spend four, five, six and possibly seven years on the Hill, when graduation finally comes, what do students look to do next?

The issue of choosing career before family and vice versa has been a debated topic for students for many years. While some students are worried about the financial strain of family ties, others want a familial foundation first.

Some students who want to start careers before starting a family cite economic reasons. The idea is with a career, they will be able to financially support their families.

“The career should come before the family because in order to successfully manage your family, you need money, and in order to make money, you have to work,” said Erin Forde, 20, a sophomore elementary education student from Pompano.

However, some students said it is a personal decision.

Panama City’s Ron Harris said it is individually relative and that experience plays a role.

“It depends on the student,” said the 21-year-old junior English student. “It’s basically a judgment call. It depends on the people involved and their level of maturity.”

Licensed Clinical Social Worker John Paschal agreed that students should make their own choice regarding building a family versus starting a career first.

“It’s the individual’s decision to make,” Paschal said. “They should list the pros and cons of each choice and make a decision based on the one that has the most advantages.”

However, communication graduate Terrell Cheaves, 23, from Sarasota said his situation was out of his hands.

“I didn’t really choose to start my family first,” Cheaves said. “Circumstances happened that were out of my control. It was hard to raise my son and get my degree, but I did it because I wanted to be able to provide for him and I wanted him to be proud of me.”

Some students expressed their concerns about the high unemployment rate and the slow job market. The recent decrease in the unemployment rate is influencing some students to prioritize finding a job.

“With the market being like it is, students should try to get established in their careers first before trying to start families,” said Reagan Williams, 21, a junior education student from Miami.

And for other students, careers and families are somewhere down the line. For them, the only priority right now is crossing the stage and receiving a degree.

“Starting my career first is more important,” replied 19-year-old second year nursing student Nakia Hugger of Jacksonville.

“But right now, I just want to graduate.”

Contact Tiffany Parker at