Books, baby revolves around SDSU student parent’s life

Emily Dotson

The average student at SDSU lives in the dorms, skips class to sleep in and may attend a weekend party or two. For the non-traditional student parents on campus, their demeanor is a little different. One student mom, Mallory Cox, has a different list of priorities.

“I’m last, in the big scheme of things,” Cox said.

The latest from the 2007-08 National Center for Education Statistics, released in 2010, reported 25.3 percent of enrolled undergraduates are student parents. When compared to the statistics from 2003-04, which reported only 10 percent of undergraduates were student parents, this shows the trend of student moms and dads are increasing.

As the normal student knows, it’s pretty easy to plan an afternoon of studying or meeting up with friends at The Union. For student parents, scheduling an outing like this can be an obstacle.

“I really have to be organized and plan out my entire semester,” Cox said. “I can’t just fly by the seat of my pants.”

Even planning a simple trip to the bookstore can be a whole other experience with a child in tow.

“Some people look at me like I’m doing something admirable, and some judge you. That’s just the reality of the situation,” Cox said.

However, campus co-eds aren’t the only people giving student parents, like Cox, the stink eye. Some teachers still treat student parents like they’re regular students, even though they’re not, Cox said.

“If he’s sick or he needs me, then I have to take the fail that day, that’s one thing I will not budge on and some teachers either get it or they don’t,” she said.

Missing class may not be considered a big deal to traditional students. However, student parents have someone else on their mind besides themselves and go to school to better provide for their child in the years to come.

But toting around a 17-month-old in The Union or in class isn’t the biggest challenge student parents confront. On top of tuition, caring for a baby does not come cheap. The cost of diapers, wipes, day care and routine doctor appointments begin to deplete a bank account faster than the words ‘goo-goo gaa-gaa’ can be uttered.

Distractions exist for everyone when it is time to do homework, but that’s not the problem. On campus, there are plenty of places to escape the loud and annoying student life sounds but for student parents, sitting down to do a few minutes of homework isn’t an easy task.

“I can’t ever do homework with him around,” Cox said.

Often, student parents must set aside that response paper unless they have someone to watch their child. Day care is one of the most important pieces of a student parent’s hectic college puzzle. SDSU currently doesn’t provide any sort of day care for student parents.

Beyond the every day stress of school and work, Cox is elated when she gets to be around people her own age, because being around a toddler doesn’t leave much room for intelligent dialogue.

“It’s nice to get out and have a real conversation with somebody,” Cox said. “Getting out and being able to use your brain becomes more fun; you appreciate it more once you’re a parent.”

The student-parent trend is growing, especially since more employers are asking for their new employees to come with a degree in hand. That has prompted many parents, like Cox, to finish school.

“I’m going to do something with my life and be happy, especially for my son,” Cox said. “He gives me more motivation, helps me not waste time and realize what’s really important.”