Being a first-time parent can be a huge life adjustment even if you think you’re prepared for it. It’s been a year since I became a first-time mother and in every endeavor that I encounter, I have to make sure my son is my first priority. One thing is clear though, seeing my son happy and healthy makes everything completely worth it.
I have always been a firm believer in the idea that earning a college degree helps provide a pathway to financial stability in one’s life. My dream has always been to advance my education as much as I possibly can. That’s why a few months after I had my son, I made the decision to continue pursuing my education and go after a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy.
The decision was an easy one to make, but the steps needed to accomplish that dream were not so easy. Aside from the drudgery of submitting various applications to different colleges, which can be a tough task especially if you’re taking care of your newborn baby, the next step was figuring out how I was going to pay for this dream.
It’s been a difficult process trying to realize my dream of going back to school and not get deterred by the many barriers that appear along my path. While I’m currently waiting to hear back from some schools and still applying to others, I’m confident that I’ll constantly have to figure out what to do next and how to resolve the issue that may come up. Unfortunately, that’s the future that awaits a student-parent once they decide to return to school.
I know I’m going to bury myself deeper in debt because there is not sufficient financial support in Illinois to help student-parents pay for school nor is there enough support with child care costs to ensure student-parents can focus on school and have the peace of mind that their child is being well-cared for. I also know that the simple fact of being a student-parent might increase my timeline to graduate since there’s a lot more for me to juggle (parent responsibilities, work, school, etc.) than other students who aren’t a parent.
While I see and understand the value of getting an education, I hope others too see the value of helping student-parents advance their educations because we will all be better off for it.
Marissa Epps is a Young Advocate with Young Invincibles and lives in Chicago, Illinois.