Young parents juggle families and studies

While many Florida A&M University students are faced with worries of getting tuition paid and what stylish outfit to wear on the hill, other Famuans are concerned about having time to do their homework and weekly baby sitter rates.

Becoming pregnant while in college can be one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. Decisions have to be made to either stay in school with a child or leave and risk not graduating on time or even at all. These choices have the potential to be one of the hardest decisions of a student’s career.

College determines life paths for students. Time, money, family sacrifice and the support of the child’s father all have a potential to sway a mother’s judgment when making a decision on whether to stay in school. For several FAMU students the decision has been made to keep the child and continue their education.

FAMU students attest that giving birth to a child while in college may be the ultimate school challenge, but for many student mothers and fathers having a child has given them the extra push they need to excel academically and graduate on time.

Mothers and fathers who have decided to stay in school are faced with taking care of another life while dealing with theirs. When some students without children were asked, most felt their study time and grades would drop if they had the worries of taking care of a baby.

This was not the case for Aeriel Pieters, an early childhood education student from Miami, and mother of one. Pieters said “I now feel like I have more drive because of her.” Pieters gave birth as a junior and said she doesn’t get much free time to study during the day, but her grades have not been affected by baby Jordynn because she is able to study at night.

Support can be another issue in determining whether to keep an unplanned child.

For FAMU Graduate Marvin Williams from Fort Lauderdale, his son is what gave him the motivation to go on. “Having a child kept me really focused,” he said

Williams was motivated enough to continue his education and obtain his masters in counseling education. He said support from both his family and the mother of his son’s family helped she and him to fulfill goals they had set prior to learning she was pregnant.

According to the College Times, an online publication (formed under The New York Times) that gives information on colleges and statistics, every one in 10 college women will get pregnant before they graduate. Statistics also show that 50 percent of those pregnancies are unplanned.

The majority of mothers walking around the hill say at first they felt awkward and self conscious. Many said they were more concerned with how they were viewed by the administration than by the students. However, after a couple of weeks all agreed it was themselves and not other people placing negative judgments.

For some, pregnancy equals motivation but for others it has meant set backs. Not all students have the support of both parents or even their own family.

For a second year nursing student goals have had to be reset and put aside. The 22-year-old mother of one, now expecting another child in February, said support of family and her children’s father has been nonexistent.

“I had to take a semester off school to take care of my baby because the father was not willing,” said the soon to be mother of two.

A Tallahassee Mother’s in Crisis employee reported that about 60 percent of students return home after learning they are pregnant.

“It’s not really fair because a lot of time the father gets to stay in school and continue on with his life,” said the Mother in Crisis worker.

For mothers around FAMU’s campus the biggest challenge has been attention because both their babies and their homework need it.

Having a child while in college can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. Finding a balance between the two can be difficult, especially while trying to create a social life for themselves.

Contact Deanna C. Walls at