Being a student in 2022 is difficult. 

With a large course load and working one or more jobs on the side, most student’s schedules are booked full. However, there are some students who have even more on their plate: being a parent. 

There are a lot of parents in college. 

“The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) notes that of the 20 million college students in the U.S. enrolled during the 2019-2020 academic year, 4.3 million are raising a child,” according to National University. 

As a parent, a person’s life is filled with looking after their child. Everything a parent does, their time and energy, revolves around their kids. Going to school, working, and being a parent is no easy task. However, there are several OCCC students who manage it. 

One of these students is Jessica Barfield. Barfield, who moved to Oklahoma in 2019 with her five year old daughter Aubriella.

 Between being a parent, working, and going to school Barfield has a full agenda, but that doesn’t stop her from excelling in each area. 

“I’ve been working two jobs while going here [OCCC] full time and being her full time parent. So I’m up at six in the morning, before I do anything, to get her up and ready for school,” Barfield said.  

Having so many responsibilities requires proper time management. 

“It is kind of chaotic but it is something that has to be done. I’m a very organized person so it’s [all about] schedules and everything. If you set a good schedule you can persevere,” Ardolia Jones, 40, a father of six girls, said.  

Being in college and raising a child is a huge motivation. Students who are also parents look at their kids and see inspiration and want to work harder. 

“Having a daughter has been huge for me. I’m a first generation college student so I want her to see that you can do. Just because you have a kid that is definitely not a reason to stop. That’s more of a motivation for me,” Barfield said.  

The parents aren’t the only ones who are motivated, so are the kids. The children see their parents working, going to school, and taking care of them and they are inspired by their mother or father. 

OCCC is aware that some of their students are parents and aim to be accommodating towards their busy schedules. 

According to Barfield, OCCC tries to help out student parents as much as possible. 

“I could have brought her [her daughter] in during registration. I’ve had professors that have said you can bring her in if you need to. If I’ve had to leave early they’ve been pretty understanding. But overall, it’s been very accommodating,” she Barfield. 

Jones thinks that OCCC is considerate towards parents’ needs.
“It’s been really accommodating because professors have given me extra time on doing work as long as I got it in. And OCCC has resources that can help, like a food pantry and a clothes locker,” Jones said.  

Students can find help at OCCC. The professors understand their busy schedules and are willing to help them out. The food pantry is offered to help feed students and their families. Also, the clothes closet is there to help with any clothing that a student needs.

Ardolia Jones. Photo by Ashton Hare.

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