Americans have a very specific set of stereotypes about undergraduate education, which these days likely involves some mutter-muttering about those dang millennials. But the college experience isn't so monolithic. For instance: 26 percent of undergrads are already raising children.
That's via Quartz, drawing on a report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research. The organization crunched US Department of Education numbers from 2011-2012 (the most recent available) and found that 4.8 million undergrads had dependents. That's more than a quarter. And it was largely women:
Women are disproportionately likely to be balancing college and parenthood, many without the support of a spouse or partner. Women make up 71 percent of all student parents, and roughly 2 million students, or 43 percent of the total student parent population, are single mothers. Single student fathers make up 11 percent of the student parent population.
As the Atlantic points out, just the thought of scrounging up childcare while trying to attend classes is enough to make your heart flutter—and if anything, it's becoming less available. "Institutions are looking desperately for places to cut. Because there's so little awareness of the prevalence of students with children I think it often ends up looking like something that's an extra rather than something that's essential," IWPR executive director Barbara Gault told the mag. Which ends in some students just racking up more debt.
It's also important to note these numbers include community and for-profit colleges, for instance, and that's who makes up a substantial chunk of student parents:
Approximately 2.1 million student parents attend 2-year institutions, representing 30 percent of the entire community college student body. An additional 1.1 million student parents attend fouryear institutions (public and private not-for-profit), representing 15 percent of the total four-year undergraduate student body, and 1.2 million student parents attend for-profit institutions, making up 51 percent of the student body at for profits. The remaining 371,207 student parents attend other institutions or more than one institution.
Emphasis mine. Now go read this damning investigation into one for-profit college and get really fucking mad.
Image via Shutterstock/bikeriderlondon.