College challenging for student-parents

While the average student frets about balancing school and their daily lives, students with children have not only those worries, but also the responsibility of having to care for another person.

“Having a child is a long-day life,” said Megan Torrence, 24, a dental hygiene student at Tallahassee Community College. “It’s hard to get everything done in a day.”

Torrence, who has a 3-year-old daughter, said time management, is key in her busy life. “Sleep is the last thing on my list,” She said. “My child and school is where my time goes first.”

Attendance policy is a serious issue that student-parents face. Monica Bailey, 23, a Florida A&M University senior public relations student from St. Louis, Mo., said she has had some teachers that just don’t care at all. This sometimes makes it hard for her to get things done.

“Most professors aren’t very lenient,” Bailey said. “I had a teacher who worked with me when I was pregnant. He didn’t make attendance a factor as long as I turned in my work.”

Torrence agreed with Bailey but said she’s had more good experiences with professors than bad ones.

“I only miss class for my daughter,” Torrence said. “I make sure that I do all of my work and if I have any problems, I talk to my teacher.”

Bailey, whose daughter is two-years-old, said it takes support from family and friends to make it work. She said she is blessed to have great people helping her with her daughter, Aniyah.

“She is with her grandparents this semester because I’m graduating this spring,” Bailey said. “My friends have been big supporters also. If it wasn’t for them helping me, I don’t know how I would get things done.”

Women aren’t the only ones who have issues balancing school and parenthood. Blair Frazier, 22, a FAMU senior graphic design student from Philadelphia, said young fathers go through difficulties too.

“There are certain things that I have to sacrifice and I don’t have as much free time as most students who don’t have children,” Frazier said. “I enjoy having a son but it wasn’t planned and I had to deal with the situation when it happened.”

Frazier, whose son is now two-years-old, said he and his son’s mother were both scared to tell their parents.

“It was our first semester in college,” Frazier said. “It was difficult at first, but my family supports me, they love my child and they accept the situation. But it’s my responsibility, along with his mother’s, to take care of him because he is here with us.”

Torrence said one of the biggest challenges is money.

“I have to pay for daycare, food, and clothes for her (my daughter) and myself,” Torrence said. “It’s the sacrifice that I have to make for my child.”

All three parents agreed it is stressful and challenging to raise a child while being in school but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I wouldn’t trade it because all in all, it’s not that bad,” Frazier said. “I love my son. It’s just at times the conflict between myself and his mother can be stressful.”

Bailey said though everything is the best between her and Aniyah’s father, Aniyah is such a positive influence in her life it’s hard to think what life would be without her.

“I didn’t have her at the best time in my life but she keeps me focused,” Bailey said. “She’s so upbeat and energetic.”

The ultimate goal of these student-parents is to raise their children and graduate.

They are all aware of what it takes to balance their responsibilities and make sacrifices.

“It’s hard for her to see me leave her now. She wants me to be close but I always have to remember I’m benefiting her,” Torrence said. “In the long run she’ll see that mommy did it all just for her.”