Single moms turn to community college

Claire Kleffman, North Campus Staff

Jamie Gahring does her homework at her dining room table with her daughter. She has done this almost every evening since going back to school. Gahring, a student at CCAC North, is one of the growing numbers of single mothers who are returning to community college to continue their education.

The number of single mothers enrolling in colleges has been increasing drastically in recent years. Most of these women are enrolling in community colleges, including CCAC.

“Being a single mother in school has definitely made it hard to find time to study and work on schoolwork,” says Gahring.

The growth of single mothers in college had more than twice the rate of growth seen among the overall undergraduate student population (44 percent) over the same time period. While the number of single mothers doubled between the years of 2000 and 2012, however, most of these mothers did not graduate.

It can be more challenging for single mothers to graduate college due to their dependent care obligations. Taking care of their children often leads to having trouble finding times to study, doing their homework, or even attending classes.

These women often choose to go to community colleges due to reasons such as, cost, class times and availability, and the rise of increasing support programs for parents on college campuses.

Gahring, like many other mothers enrolling in community college, was inspired by a desire to advance in her career. She chose CCAC specifically mainly because of its affordable cost.
Others cite the flexibility of schedules for choosing community college.

Some colleges have found ways to support single mothers through their educational career. New York recently proposed free childcare on campus. A national nonprofit called Education Design Lab has recently launched a pilot program at four community colleges throughout the country to design efforts for better success rates for this demographic over the next six years.

“Single mothers, in particular, are not well served by the current system,” said a spokesperson for Education Design Lab.