Juggling School, Work and Parenting — the Making of the New Super Woman

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Juggling School, Work and Parenting — the Making of the New Super Woman

Patricia Granados stands with her three children, (from left to right) Azaria Granados, Hadassah Granados and Josiah Granados.

Patricia Granados stands with her three children, (from left to right) Azaria Granados, Hadassah Granados and Josiah Granados.

Photo by: Ram Reyes

Patricia Granados stands with her three children, (from left to right) Azaria Granados, Hadassah Granados and Josiah Granados.

Photo by: Ram Reyes

Photo by: Ram Reyes

Patricia Granados stands with her three children, (from left to right) Azaria Granados, Hadassah Granados and Josiah Granados.

Story By: Ashleigh Panoo, Reporter

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It’s likely that when you think of Wonder Woman, your mind turns to a fictional character from a comic book, or even the latest box-office hit.

Yet, all around the Fresno City College campus, there are women just as worthy of the title.

Like the Wonder Woman of the comics, they hold a secret identity that cannot be identified just by their appearance alone. They possess powerful motivation and great compassion. What is their secret identity?

Motherhood.

These non-traditional students have had to choose homework over playtime and bedtime stories over nights out.

They have had to miss class over babysitter bails, sick days, foggy days and everything in between.

These women have tried to do it all, and while they’ve sometimes felt hopeless, they have also felt immense joy over their academic accomplishments.

These student parents are trying to strike the balance between motherhood and college.

They have come to accept the reality that college life as a parent is often chaotic and stressful, yet according to Fresno City College student and mother of three, Patricia Granados, extremely rewarding.

“One of the biggest rewards of having children while finishing college for me is the motivation,” she said. “When you have children, giving up isn’t an option.”

Although women like Granados, whose children are ages 4, 3 and 1, have perhaps felt alone in their struggles at one point or another, is parenthood all that uncommon during college?

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, it’s not. Over a quarter of students nationwide are parents.

These 4.8 million parents are struggling with things like child care and time management, while performing the juggling act that is parenting and attending college.

Even more eye-opening is the fact that 71 percent of student parents are women, with 43 percent of those women being single mothers.

This means that roughly 2 million women are juggling college with raising children all by themselves.

Single student fathers only make up about 11 percent of the student parent population, according to the IWPR study.

A portion of these parents also hold a job.

This added responsibility can prove stressful, but there are a few positive aspects.

Eighteen- to 34-year-old parents actually have a 20 percent lower unemployment rate (8.4 percent) than their peers without children (10.3 percent), according to Young Invincibles, a national organization that represents the interests of 18-34 year-olds.

This could be due to the motivation having a child gives parents, like Granados suggests.

That parent has a new sense of responsibility to hold onto a job, and also to get a better education.

Like Granados, a child development major, said, “My children are looking up to me and watching [me] get through it all.”

According to an article published in the research journal Social Science Quarterly, in degree completion among students who are equal in all aspects other than having children, parents are 50 percent less likely to finish their degree.

This contradicts the feelings of students such as Granados, but it makes sense when studies have shown that student parents are less likely to attend college full-time and attending part-time makes it more likely that the student will drop out.

Some parents find that taking non-traditionally scheduled classes might be the key to success.

According to the IWPR study, night classes are more important to non-traditional students, with parents taking night classes between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. at a rate that is seven times higher than traditional students.

Even study times dramatically differ between parents and non-parents.

According to the Young Invincibles study, parents’ study time dramatically decreases between the hours of 4 p.m and 8 p.m. while non-parents’ study time increases and peaks at around 8 p.m.

Parents also see a spike in study time between midnight and 2 a.m. while non-parents study time continues on a slow decrease.

With all these added responsibilities, student parents can feel like they have little time left out of their day for leisure.

According to the 2013 American Time Use Survey that uses data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, student mothers spend almost four times the amount of time that non-parents do on household chores each day.

This is an average of four hours a day spent on cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. This is on top of the time that is spent caring for household members which also doubles for student mothers.

Yet, according to the study, the amount of time student mothers spend on other activities such as sleeping, eating and education is relatively close to what students without children spend.

This means that student mothers are packing in more activities during their day than their childless counterparts, potentially leaving them exhausted and stretched for time.

Mothers like Granados understand the pressure that is put on them to find ways to succeed despite their mountain of other responsibilities.

Granados believes that where there’s a will, there’s a way. “I usually have to study in-between naps and movie time or stay at the college to study,” Granados said.

Student parents often rely on supportive family and friends to get them through the week.

Granados said she is lucky that she lives with her parents and her mom is able to help with childcare.

“It’s been so important,” Granados said. “It would not have been possible without the support of my family.”

Although she is married, her husband works a rotating shift and can’t always be counted on to help.

“The big[gest] challenge is just having the energy to do it all,” said Granados.

Despite the obstacles the student mothers at Fresno City College have to overcome, these women wield an immeasurable power that drives them to succeed.

The only thing setting them apart from the Wonder Woman of the DC universe is a tiara and a fancy costume.

Like wonder woman Granados said, “There is no circumstance too big to keep someone from an education.”

Granados admits there is sometimes only one thing keeping her holding on.

She said, “Sometimes it’s just willpower.”

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