Falcon Family Study Night provides closer community to student parents

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David Escobedo and David Escobedo

BGSU is host to many student parents attending classes on campus. Nontraditional and Military Student Services looked to provide a tighter sense of community for student parents with the Falcon Family Study Night.

The event took place in the Jordan Development Center Wednesday evening. It was initially thought of when Gabriel Dunbar, program coordinator and advisor for Nontraditional and Military Student Services, went and saw a similar pilot program at Kent State University last spring. The program was a collaboration between Nontraditional and Military Student Services, the Center for Women and Gender Equity and Human Development and Family Studies.

The program started off with a community-style dinner for student parents and their children. After the dinner, some education majors provided childcare while the parents got some study time for themselves. The event went from 5 to 8 p.m. with student parents coming whenever they could if they had busy schedules.

According to “The Challenges of Parenting While in College” by Elizabeth Dorrance Hall, nearly 5 million undergraduate students within the U.S. are also parents. Only 26 percent of those student parents earn their degrees within six years. One of the reasons cited for this statistic is the lack of support for student parents. This is part of why the Falcon Family Study Night was planned.

“The main intent is to provide a sense of community for this student population. A lot of times, if you think about it, a traditional age student is coming to college … and that becomes their whole life. They’re taking classes, maybe they’re working on campus. But you have everything surrounding that experience. For a nontraditional student, they have at least two, maybe three, different things they’re trying to blend in together. So, they have their school work, maybe they have their family, maybe they’re working full time,” Dunbar said. “We’re trying to provide an opportunity for them to blend two of those things: their academics and their family.”

Further programs like this one will be considered for the future. Student parents are busy, so more times will be considered for future events. The helpfulness of the event to student parents will also be evaluated before going forward with more study nights.

Dunbar said that he doesn’t want the event to just be something else student parents could do. He wants it to be something that would actually be convenient for them. Dunbar wants to get the message across that BGSU supports student parents as a family and will do anything they can to support their academics

“I think it’s great. I wish they would do more stuff like this for nontraditional students, especially. It brings everyone together,” Jenna Hogrefe, a student parent and nursing major who was in attendance, said. “Being an older student, you don’t feel like you get that support as much. … I’m happy to be here.”