Eastern Michigan University took its first steps in helping students who are parents to graduate by approving a pilot parenting student support program for the 2015 winter semester.
The parenting student support program will work within the Women’s Resource Center. EMU is trying to increase the degree completion and retention rate across the board by targeting specific student populations, like student parents, and instituting support programs for their success.
The program was designed to help parenting students obtain a degree in six years. 52.2 percent of parenting students in 2003-04 left college without a degree.
“We have received enough feedback so that we know we really need to do this on campus,” EMU Provost Kim Schatzel said.
The pilot program will include childcare grants and the hiring of a Parenting Student Resource Coordinator. The childcare grants will be a supplement to financial aid and government assistance. The students can also come in if they need help finding childcare that works for them. With the number of students over the age of 25 increasing, programs designed to help those students are also increasing.
“The non-traditional student has become the traditional student,” Schatzel said.
Services that may be added to the program in the future include:
- Affordable child care resources
- Transportation services
- Drop-in child care on campus
- Adequate breast-feeding or pumping space on campus
- Priority registration for student parents
There are currently eight breast-feeding and pumping rooms on campus. The locations of each room can be found on the WRC website.
The program was built with students in mind from the information that has been compiled over the years from students requesting help in specific areas, such as childcare.
“To actually hear from our students made it real,” Ellen Lassiter Collier, director of the Women’s Resource Center said.
The more students that get involved in the pilot program, the more the WRC can work to mold the program to the student’s needs. The WRC is to be an advocate for parenting students while also supporting parenting students to have a successful college career.
“The pilot will allow us to learn and make the necessary improvements for the fall,” Schatzel said.
With the winter semester approaching parenting students can contact Collier or go to the WRC for information and to be put on an email list to receive information as it becomes available.
“These programs are specifically designed for parenting students,” said Reggie Barnes, director of Diversity and Community Life. “We want them to be supported throughout their career at EMU.”