Students with young children – especially mothers – find themselves in a time crisis
The research brief is a brief overview of interesting academic work.
The big idea
We found that students with children had much less time for college than their peers without children - about 4.3 hours less per week, to be precise - and that this " time poverty was most common. great for mothers of preschoolers. this is according to a study carried out in with american students.>
Our study also found other trends. Student parents also often had to look after the children while they were studying. The âtime-poorâ parents sacrificed much more of their free time for their studies than the childless students who had more time and could graduate from college more quickly.
Among all student parents, those with the youngest children – and mothers in particular – had the least time for college and were more likely to attend college part-time. free time – time left after all necessary tasks – on their education than any other group. Perhaps it was an attempt to compensate for the fact that they had less time for their studies.
In addition, although having less time available for their studies at the start, mothers spent more time on average studying than fathers. For example, among parents with children aged 1 to 5, mothers had 8.4 fewer hours per week to devote to their education than fathers with children of the same age. Yet these mothers spent almost two hours more per week studying than their fathers.
Why is this important
This jet lag is significant because students with children are more likely to drop out and take longer to graduate than students without children, even though they have a higher GPA on average, according to a study that we released in 2018.
In our 2021 study, spending less time in college largely explained the difference in time spent on education between students who have children and those who don’t, as well as between mothers and fathers. This also explained the differences between these groups in part-time enrollment.
However, mothers and fathers who lived with other adult family members who could help with childcare were able to devote more time to their academic work. They also spent less time studying while looking after children, and they attended university full-time more often. Each additional adult family member living with a student parent increased their time spent studying by more than an hour and a half per week. It also increased the time student parents spent studying without the presence of children by 5 percentage points and their likelihood of enrolling full-time by more than 2 percentage points. This suggests that access to child care is essential to the progress of student parents.
Improving student-parent performance is important not only for students, but also for their families. One of the reasons for this is that getting a college degree is linked to better economic and educational outcomes for their children.
What is not yet known
We don’t yet know what kinds of supports might work best to improve outcomes for students who are parents, but there are several potential solutions.
On-campus child care at colleges in the United States currently only meets about 5% of the needs of student parents and has declined in recent decades.
One possible approach could be to invest more systematically in day care centers on college campuses to support student parents. Another approach could be to increase federal financial aid to automatically cover childcare costs that student parents need to study or attend classes.
Lack of time can also be a challenge for students who are not parents. Currently, we are looking at time poverty rates for other groups, such as students who enroll in online courses, women, and students of color, to explore how unevenly distributed time poverty is. and whether that may explain the inequitable academic outcomes for these groups. This can help us understand whether different groups complete their college education at different rates due to differences in the amount of time they are required to devote to their studies.
[Like what youâve read? Want more? Sign up for The Conversationâs daily newsletter.]
This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Claire Wladis, CUNY Graduate Center.
Claire Wladis receives funding from the National Science Foundation.