Program helps students juggle dual roles as student and parent

Jessica Roblin

Workshops emphasize good parenting and stress management

Starting college while juggling a regular adult lifestyle can be overwhelming. The Adult Student Center at Kent State offers a solution.

Because of outside obligations, some students do not have time to concentrate solely on school. Programs linked with the center aim to help students who are older than average, have a child or both.

“We try to make it as smooth and balanced as we can,” said Stephanie Boyd, graduate assistant and adviser for the Adult Student Center.

Students in the program range from about 21- to 60-years-old. In 2007, the last year from which statistics are available, there were 2,071 students 25 or older enrolled at the Kent campus.

Boyd works primarily with the Literacy and Independence for Family Education program for single parents. She helps moms create a solid foundation by offering parenting, stress management and nutritional programs.

The L.I.F.E. program realizes the students it works with may not know how to study for an exam, Boyd said.

Adult orientation and other workshops throughout the semester help these students improve their study habits, time management, priorities, balance and relationship problems.

A newer, Web-based orientation makes it even easier for students to adjust to college life as an adult.

“You’re going to go through a lot of obstacles,” junior nursing student Felicia Mercado said about being an adult student at Kent State. “You use your ambition to pick yourself up when you fall.”

Mercado, 21, joined the first class of the L.I.F.E. program in 2006 and began mentoring for it in 2007. She understands how hard it is to work, take care of a child and go to school, and she passes that experience to other adult students.

“When I finally do talk to them and help somebody, it feels really good,” Mercado said.

Time management is the biggest obstacle for her as a single mom. There is a lot of cramming, she said. As a mother, she wants to care for her child, but said she knows school is important, too.

Day care is available while parents attend class, workshops or simply take a break, she said. The parents form a bond with each other because of these programs.

“The girls click and become kind of a family,” Mercado said.

She recalled the difficulty of feeling like an outsider when she came to Kent State as a mother. The L.I.F.E. program helped fill the lonely void.

“Living and learning,” Mercado said. “You’ve got to just not be afraid to fail.”

Contact student affairs reporter Jessica Roblin at [email protected].