- New research shows that college students with young children have much less time to focus on coursework and that this "time poverty" affects their academic performance, according to Inside Higher Ed.
- The study by two professors from the Borough of Manhattan Community College at the City University of New York and one from the University of Texas at El Paso showed that students with preschool-age children take longer to earn their degrees and are less likely to finish than students who have no children or older children. The researchers used survey and transcript data from 15,385 students at two- and four-year CUNY colleges.
- Meanwhile, the availability of child care on campus is declining, Inside Higher Ed notes, citing one researcher who said financial aid formulas should consider students' child care and other family costs.
As colleges seek to maintain or improve enrollment levels, many are targeting adult learners. Understanding how their needs differ from those of traditional students is critical to attracting and retaining them.
The issue of convenient, affordable child care for this group will continue to be a challenge. The American Council on Education (ACE) in a 2017 report noted that nearly 60% of undergraduate students enrolled during the 2011-12 academic year were older learners and 60% of post-traditional learners were women. Those numbers will continue to increase, which means the share of students with children will likely also grow.
Meanwhile, fewer institutions are offering child care services for students. In 2015, 49% of four-year public colleges offered child care, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, down from 55% in 2005. The share of community colleges with child care centers dropped from 53% in 2004 to 44% in 2015.
Financial support, whether from the institution or the government, could help. The University of Houston said two-thirds of its students with children are receiving federal subsidies to help pay for child care and that the aid improved their graduation rates. The university also provides discounts of up to 60% for child care at two campus centers that charge from $200 to $300 per week, depending on the child's age.