If you're a parent who wants to start college, then you have more considerations than the average student. They say that raising a child is itself a full-time job. And while most parents can balance their jobs with looking after their children, attending college has its own unique challenges. You have less spending money. You may be moving your family to somewhere new. You may need to get your own job on top of studying and child raising. And you have to hope for good child care facilities in the local area.
The above are just a few of the concerns facing parents who are returning to college. But many parents that want to return to the world of education are doing it precisely for their children. It's to get a better job, with better pay that will help their children up until and during their own college years. If this is what you want, then going to college should definitely be something that you're dedicated to.
And, ideally, the responsibility of child care should be something that the college helps with. College is expensive, and you're paying for the best education that you can possibly get. Included in this fee should be services that allow you to learn without worrying about your child. Also, some colleges will naturally be in more child-friendly places than others. So which are the ones that both help students with parenting and are located in the ideal place for you? This list will highlight the 30 best in America.
Hopefully, at least one of the colleges below will be your perfect choice for college attendance. Whether you're a single parent, are married, are male or are female, the colleges below let everyone have a high-quality education and do things to make students' children happy throughout. However, even if none of the choices below is the right fit for you, this list should still be helpful, as it will show you some of the things that you have to look for in your own college choices. If the place that you're thinking of attending doesn't have any comparable programs in place for parents, then you can address this to them, and see if they can provide similar assistance.
There are a range of sources online that discuss studying as a parent. Our list has thoroughly analyzed those lists and compiled a consensus of opinion. We've chosen to highlight this for you by sorting the best performers into a descending ranking of the 30 most impressive parent-friendly colleges. The colleges with the most references across sources and with the demonstrable best student parent services perform the highest on our list.
The sources that we've used are as follows:
US News, Child-Friendly College Programs for Parents: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2011/03/23/child-friendly-college-programs-for-parents
Single Mother Guide, Child-friendly Colleges for Single Parents: https://singlemotherguide.com/colleges-for-single-parents/
NPR, When The Students On Campus Have Kids Of Their Own: https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/11/18/502003007/when-the-students-on-campus-have-kids-of-their-own
Nation Swell, 5 Ways Colleges Help Single Parents Earn Degrees: http://nationswell.com/5-ways-colleges-help-single-parents-earn-degrees/
Study.com, Best Schools for Student Parents: https://study.com/articles/10_Best_Schools_for_Student_Parents.html
Higher Education Today, Building Family-Friendly Campuses: Strategies to Promote College Success Among Student Parents: https://www.higheredtoday.org/2017/06/12/building-family-friendly-campuses-strategies-promote-college-success-among-student-parents/
Christian Post, The 20 Best Colleges for Single Parents: http://m.blogs.christianpost.com/guest-views/the-20-best-colleges-for-single-parents-12448/
Institute for Women's Policy Research, Prepping Colleges for Parents: https://iwpr.org/wp-content/uploads/wpallimport/files/iwpr-export/publications/Support%20for%20Student%20Parents%20Paper_MAIN_6%2017%2015%20clean.pdf
Center for American Progress, The Imperative to Support Single Mothers in College: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education-postsecondary/news/2018/07/19/453783/imperative-support-single-mothers-college/
Learn How To Become, Support Guide for Single Moms in College: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education-postsecondary/news/2018/07/19/453783/imperative-support-single-mothers-college/
On top of ranking the strongest performers on the above lists, we've also performed our own research into the parent-friendly activities that the colleges have implemented to ensure that what each article states is the truth. Overall, this must be the internet's most comprehensive list of parent-friendly colleges to date.
Our ranking is below:
30. Eastern Kentucky University
Computer Information Systems Programs
This college's student parent support efforts have been implemented so recently that most lists neglect to feature it. However, Eastern Kentucky University's new apartment complex for single moms and dads ensures that it deserves its place on this list. Eastern Scholar House opened as recently as September 2017. NPR states that this building cost $10 million. And this money has gone into creating, "single-parent households access to housing, on-site child care and other services as the parent pursues a college dream."
29. University of Wisconsin, La Crosse
Geography and Earth Science Program
Institute for Women's Policy Research notes that the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse has an innovative way of helping student parents into and through college. It's called the Self Sufficiency Program and it's entirely free for low-income parents to enroll in. The 14-week course teaches the parents, "critical thinking, writing, math, and computer/technical skills," and more. What's even better is that the program provides free childcare while the classes are happening. Additionally, parents who pass this program are given a scholarship for enrolling at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse or a local two-year institution.
28. Minnesota State University
American Indigenous Studies Program
Christian Post highlights how Minnesota State University has several innovative scholarships for student parents. One is for women who have had to delay college due to family matters. It's called The Mary Jane Scholarship for Re-Entry Women, and it provides up to $1,000. Another is for single parents regardless of gender and is called the Coplan Donohue Single Parent Scholarship, which offers a similar level of funding as the Mary Jane Scholarship. Additionally, Minnesota State University's Women's Center provides a welcoming place for student parents and their children, offering toys, a lactation station and other facilities for use.
27. Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College
Elementary Education Program
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College has a rewards-based program on offer for student parents aged between 18 to 35 years. Institute for Women's Policy Research reports that the Young Student Parent Program gives academic advising, special workshops, presentations, tutoring, nutrition education, financial counseling, parenting classes and more. What's even better is that it has partnered with local health centers to offer free screenings and immunizations. Performing well in the program's activities means that those students enrolled get gas cards, grocery cards, and other gift cards.
26. Portland State University
The two sources that discuss Portland State University cite different reasons for highlighting the college. Nation Swell is impressed with the way that the college has implemented a student parent success program that has resulted in 92% of graduates working in a field related to their course of study. Center for American Progress notes that the college hosts and curates the National Student Parent Success Symposium, which is, "the only national conference that promotes the advancement of support services for college and university students who are raising children while completing their education."
25. Ferris State University
Construction Management Program
Two methodology sources commend Ferris State University's use of funding for single parents. The college received money from the Kellogg Foundation to create a "Keys to Degrees" program (a program which is modeled on something pioneered by the number 2 entry on this list.) At Ferris State University, the program focuses on providing educational and fun events for the children of students, which helps the parents with study time. However, Ferris State University also has the Students with Children Network, which offers additional support in the form of academic advising, food bank access, daycare payment assistance and more.
24. University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Wisconsin's colleges have many incredible programs that help student parents through their years of study. The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, in particular, has the Life Impact Program, which offers disadvantaged parents a $5,000 renewable scholarship and a range of support. Throughout their schooling, student parents are able to contact a life coach team, which assesses their specific needs and creates a range of material to help them. And this program is impactful; the graduation rate of students who are helped by this system is 84.2%, which is much higher than the national average of 59%. Both Higher Education Today and the Institute for Women's Policy Research commend this program.
23. University of California, San Diego
Latin American Studies Program
While the majority of American colleges can appear blind to the needs of student parents, University of California, San Diego has shown that it is highly attentive to them. And this attentiveness starts right at enrollment. The college runs the Priority Enrollment Program for Undergraduate Students with Children, which allows parents to schedule their classes and coursework around their parental responsibilities. This program has impressed Higher Education Today. However, Institute for Women's Policy Research has identified many more accommodations that University of California, San Diego has for parents who are studying, including child-friendly study rooms, family-centered on-campus leisure spaces and more.
22. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
This college's main focus on helping student parents is through child care. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor has a system where low-income parents can access financial aid to support child care while they study. For the 2018-2019 school year, the maximum amount that the college will pay out to students is $2,830 per term for one child, $4,144 per term for two children and $5,463 per term for three or more children. Both Higher Education Today and the Institute for Women's Policy Research cite this program as a strong example of a college providing ample funds to student parents.
21. Lane Community College
Culinary Arts Program
Community colleges enroll 45% of all student parents, so it's great to see that some are offering the highest standard in child support services. Lane Community College is a fine example. It has a whole department dedicated to quality care. And for parent students, it offers free guidance and information about child care, behavioral strategies, school readiness, early childhood development, stress and anxiety issues, playgroups, foster care and much more. The staff members in this department are specially trained in these areas, ensuring that parents get the best help. These services are commended by Higher Education Today and the Institute for Women's Policy Research.
20. University of Alabama
The University of Alabama is combining classic support techniques with technology. For instance, it runs support groups for undergraduate and graduate students that are conducted through online forums. Institute for Women's Policy research is quick to point out that these support group activities have created strong social networks for student parents. However, the parental support goes much further than online. The college has the yearly Family Resource Fair, a family resource center, and family activities at the campus outdoor recreation department. If all this weren't enough, then it also runs the "Sitters for Service" program, which gives students with children 30 hours of free babysitting every semester. Higher Education Today is another methodology source to commend the University of Alabama.
19. Mount Holyoke College
Data Science Program
This college has put a system in place that ensures that women parents aged 25 or older have the opportunity to attain a degree. This is called The Frances Perkins Program, and it selects 90 women each year. It covers the cost of tuition and provides selected students an amazing amount of financial support. The program also allows the students to create their own flexible study schedule. This program has been running since 1980 and has led to the graduation of over 1,000 women. Nation Swell and Christian Post both praise this program.
18. University of California, Berkeley
Jewish Studies Program
Nation Swell notes that student parents at the University of California Berkeley can access the Bear Pantry, which provides food supplies and gift cards to help them pay for their own food. And the Bear Pantry is also expanding its offering. In November 2017, it started a diaper bank program which provides 50 free diapers a month to student parents. However, the Institute for Women's Policy Research notes that the University of California, Berkeley is doing much more for students with children. It has credit-bearing courses that help the students become familiar with the college, has collaborative learning environments for student parents and has a program that helps student parents transition into the workforce after graduation.
17. Los Angeles Valley Community College
This college has set a strong example that all colleges, community or otherwise, should follow. Los Angeles Valley Community College has the Family Resource Center on Campus. The center strengthens working families that study; has a lactation room; provides parenting workshops; runs infant and toddler playgroups; finds internships; provides free children's clothing; provides diapers, wipes, and formula; and runs family-friendly events. A program coordinator at the center is Amber Angel, who herself was a student parent at the college, and who is advocating for student parent issues across America. Both Higher Education Today and American Progress commend Los Angeles Valley Community College for its work.
16. Texas Woman's University
Studio Art Program
Two methodology sources cite Texas Woman's University, as it runs SPARK, the Student Pioneers Also Raising Kids program. Members of this program meet every month to discuss the current opportunities that students with children can utilize. Some of the areas that SPARK assists with include financial support, social support, and academic support. The college also has an enrichment program for the children of students called The Clubhouse, which is for children aged five to 12. However, this enrichment program comes with a fee. The sources that recommend Texas Woman's University are Study.com and Christian Post.
15. Champlain College
Game Programming Program
The support services at Champlain are specifically geared towards single parents. The Single Parents Program has been running for over 30 years and has helped thousands of students with children get into its college and through tuition successfully. And the college's website has provided many examples of the program really making a difference to students' lives. For instance, Guadeloupe Linarte Cano, a current student, states, "I couldn't ask for anything more. As a student, as a mother, the program gives me the strength to get a degree I couldn't find anywhere else. It has opened a lot of doors to make it possible to come to school and stay here." Christian Post and Study.com are the sources that particularly recommend this college.
14. University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
Social Work Program
This college's range of student parent scholarships on offer is incredible. Christian Post notes that it has the Single Parent Scholarship, the Susan Bruce Single Parent Scholarship, the Hero's Fund for Single Parents and the Smith Single Parent Scholarship. And once the students have been admitted and supported with the scholarships, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire's attentiveness to student parents continues. It has the Children's Nature Academy, which employs non-parent students to run programs that, "physically, emotionally and cognitively," nurture children's sense of wonder. Study.com also recommends this college.
13. University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Landscape Architecture Program
Online degrees have long been a convenient solution for student parents, as they allow the degree to be pursued at the student's own pace and schedule. However, US News reports that the University of Massachusetts has a degree program that merges online education with a traditional degree. The University Without Walls Program allows students to both come to campus and study their degree partially online. It's up to the student to decide how much they want to study online or on campus. Students can even study 100% online if they wish. Each semester, over 900 students enroll in this program, which is giving many the chance to study something that would be almost impossible to undertake otherwise. Study.com and Christian Post also recommend University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
12. Brigham Young University
Christian Post notes that as Brigham Young University is a Mormon affiliated college, it is naturally well suited to family-oriented study. And luckily, the college's family focus doesn't just extend to married people. It has the Maurine R. and Joseph A. Humphries Fund for Single Parents, for instance, which helps single parents access educational opportunities at the college. Additionally, Brigham Young Television has also produced a video guide for effective single parenting that can help students or anyone who is a single parent. Nation Swell and Study.com also recommend Brigham Young University.
11. Berea College
Single Mother's Guide considers Berea College to be the third best college for parents looking to study. Christian Post places Berea at 14th on its similar list. Lastly, Learn How To Become lists it in its unnumbered list. The college's approach to supporting students with children may not be to everyone's taste, but it is certainly innovative. Students, their children, and their spouses get to live on the college's Ecovillage for no monetary fee. However, the parent (and spouse, if applicable) must instead perform environmentally friendly work and community building activities, such as farming, teaching, and babysitting in addition to their degree requirements.
10. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
US News notes that the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is one of several that offers students with children access to on-site daycare. And Study.com notes that the assistance that the college gives to children starts before they are even born. If a student is pregnant, the college will provide them with training in looking after a child. If this weren't enough, Institute for Women's Policy Research notes that the college also has weekly Parents as Students Support (PASS) lunch meetings to help student parents foster useful and friendly social connections. Further research also reveals that the college has a Teen Parent Outreach Program and many other incredible initiatives based around helping young people with children achieve academic success.
9. Baldwin Wallace University
Digital Media & Design: Interactive Design Program
Single Mother Guide names Baldwin Wallace University as the best college for single parents. This is due to its Single Parents Reaching Out For Unassisted Tomorrows (SPROUT) program. US News, Christian Post and Study.com all also recommend this college and state that the SPROUT program is an incredible resource. SPROUT has been running since 1992, and during this time, thousands of single parents have accessed funding and resources for child care, counseling, mentoring, internships, tutoring and other forms of aid.
8. Mills College
Mills College really puts students with children before all others. It does this by giving them priority spaces in a range of the college's services. For example, student parents are assigned two bedroom apartments that are only a five minute walk from campus. And the on-campus children's school ensures that the children of students can be enrolled. Also, student parents are given their own parking spaces and are allowed to eat meals with their children on campus. US News, Single Mother Guide, Christian Post and Study.com all praise Mills College for these initiatives.
7. University of Iowa
Of the four methodology sources that highlight University of Iowa, most state that its family-friendly campus sets it apart from the competition. And most uniquely this includes almost 50 lactation rooms that the college has installed for new mothers. However, the University of Iowa's human resources department also does a great deal to assist student mothers with issues that they may face. This includes accessing child care funding, creating flexible work arrangements and offering a range of new parent resources online. US News, Nation Swell, Christian Post and Study.com are the specific sources that praise the University of Iowa.
6. College of Saint Mary
Nation Swell notes that the College of Saint Mary is an ideal option for student parents for multiple reasons. In 2012, it opened a whole building dedicated to single mothers, named Madonna Hall. The facilities include free laundry facilities on every floor, child play areas and areas that integrate study and child play spaces. On top of this, students and children living in this facility benefit from 24/7 security, meaning that they can always feel safe. But incredible facilities are only a small part of what the College of Saint Mary is doing to ensure that student parents succeed. Its Mothers Living & Learning program provides advisors, workshops, leadership opportunities, student groups and more all for the purpose of making single mothers' study years a success. These services are also praised by Single Mother Guide, Christian Post and Learn How To Become.
5. Eastern Michigan University
Africology and African American Studies Program
This college has adopted something called the Keys to Degrees Program that several other colleges have been implementing. This allows student parents to access accommodation, child care, mentoring and workshops on the college campus year round. However, Eastern Michigan University has other departments that can assist student parents. For example, it also has the Women's Resource Center, which can assist student parents with getting their child enrolled in the college's early childhood education programs and many other things. Single Mother Guide, Nation Swell, Christian Post and Study.com are the sources that recommend Eastern Michigan University.
4. Saint Catherine's University
Healthcare Sales Programs
Five different methodology sources praise Saint Catherine's University's Access and Success program. It's specifically designed to address any and all issues that student parents may have. Its dedicated services include providing free childcare, money management assistance, food support, housing, safety and well being and transportation. One thing that really sets Saint Catherine's University's program apart from other college programs is that it is, "open to any student with a child(ren), regardless of income, the age of the child, marital status, or degree level." The specific sources that recommend St Catherine's University are US News, Nation Swell, Christian Post, Study.com and Institute for Women's Policy Research.
3. Misericordia University
Social Studies Program
Five different methodology sources all list a range of different and beneficial services that are on offer for student parents at Misericordia University. US News notes that the college has a system in place where students volunteer to babysit the children of student parents so the parents can study, relax or attend to essential needs. The source also states that women student parents are required to access the college's counseling services. Single Mother Guide highlights that the college subsidizes childcare costs. Nation Swell points out that the college provides a bus line from campus to schools and also provides summer and sports camps for students' children. Christian Post notes that the college gives student parents financial help. Lastly, Study.com notes that the college has very good emergency support should student parents or their children need it. As amazing as all these things are, the student parent support doesn't end there. For instance, women parents and children living at the college stay in free accommodation and eat for free.
2. Endicott College
Exercise Science Program
Most sources rave about Endicott College's student parent support. The most frequently cited program in these sources is the Key to Degrees program (which Eastern Michigan University and Ferris State University have now adopted.) This program gives individually crafted tutoring to any student with a child, covering subject-specific information and advice on balancing school and family duties, among other things. And the sources also cover other ways that Endicott is aiding students with children in their degrees. For instance, US News notes that the children of students can sit in on classes, and Institute for Women's Policy Research states that student parents can enroll in additional courses in the summer to spread out course requirements.
1. Wilson College
Eight out of 10 methodology sources highly recommend Wilson College for student parents, meaning that it has the joint highest number of recommendations of any college on this list. The main force that has led this women's college to become so highly recommended is its Women with Children Program. Part of what is included in this program is one of the best free child care systems in the world. It offers children aged up to five amazing activities, such as field trips. NPR also notes that its location is idyllic for children, with a farm on site. However, the college has done much more to enhance the single parent friendliness of their facilities, such as building an entire dorm for mothers with children. And it's been running the Women with Children program for over 20 years, meaning that it's one of the colleges with the most experience at helping student parents. In addition to NPR, US News, Single Mother Guide, Nation Swell, Christian Post, Study.com, Learn How To Become and Institute for Women's Policy Research all recommend the college.