Having a baby while you are in college can be rough. However, it is possible to still get a college education with a baby in tow. Here is how Forrest and I survived attending college (and eventually graduating) with a baby.
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Right after I announced my pregnancy, I ran into an acquaintance at the store.
I mentioned that I was pregnant, and soon after I told her of my plans to finish college, she laughed and said, “Ha, well…we’ll see about that.”
And it made me so mad!
Just because I was having a baby didn’t mean I couldn’t finish school.
That less than five-minute encounter with this girl became one of my driving forces to finish college.
In April of 2013, both Forrest and I both received our Bachelors degrees and proved that it is possible to have a baby while in school.
1) Take less classes
This can be a pain, especially if you are trying to finish as quickly as possible.
But I found that it was so much doable when I only had to concentrate on two or three classes during the semester.
Not only was it easier to not take on the 17 credits I had normally taken (personally, I think that was just a bad idea even as an unmarried and childless student!), but I did so much better than previous semesters.
I graduated a year later than I had initially planned, but I’ve also graduated with a much higher GPA than semesters before I was married or having a baby.
Plus, you need time to focus on your baby! If you are taking tons of classes, it can become difficult to balance baby time, and school time. You need to be able to divide your time appropriately.
2) Enlist Help
Remember this – it is near impossible to get through college with a baby or other child without any help.
We were very blessed to have family nearby most of the time after Jack was born.
But even if you don’t have family, don’t be afraid to ask close friends or even friends from community or church friends.
Of course, don’t take advantage of anyone. If someone agrees to help you, make sure to give them plenty of notice, offer to trade babysitting, and come up with a payment arrangement if necessary.
3) Talk with professors
Make sure you let your professors know about your situation.
I’m not saying to ask them for special treatment or anything, but I think it’s important for professors to know if occasionally an emergency were to come up. When I was pregnant, and Jack was due in the middle of the semester, I contacted my professor before the semester even started to let him know about what was going on.
He told me that the class was demanding and that he had had students in a similar situation before. Some excelled, others did not.
However, he knew what was going on before the semester started, and he was more than happy to work with me. I actually ended up doing almost all my assignments before Jack was born (one of the perks of only taking two classes), and I got a great grade in the class. We communicated a lot during the time that Jack was born, and it ended up being a great experience.
This past fall semester, I also talked with professors beforehand so they knew I had a baby who may occasionally make an appearance.
I know that they appreciated that, and they welcomed Jack when he did come with me.
There were a few times I had to leave class to answer a phone call from a doctor, or I was a few minutes late, but they were always understanding and knew I wasn’t slacking off.
It probably helped that I always turned my assignments in on time, and I did them well. But I think things went better because I did communicate with them.
4) Grants and Scholarships
College is expensive, obviously.
If you are eligible for any kind of financial aid, be sure take advantage of that.
Personally, I prefer the route of using grants and scholarships, since they don’t have to be paid back. Student loans may be tempting, but I would avoid those if possible. Grants are given to people who fall below a certain income level, which is determined by filling out the FAFSA. We’ve qualified for grants since we the time we got married, since our income was pretty low.
Scholarships are also an excellent way to help fund your college experience. Be sure to check with your specific college or department, because there are often scholarships available through those venues that are easier to get, because you aren’t competing against an entire University! The applications for these are usually due several months before a semester even begins, so be proactive.
5) Carefully plan your schedule
This may be a no-brainer, especially if you’ve meticulously planned your schedules in the past, but with a baby, it’s even more important!
Try and schedule your classes during nap time, and avoid feeding times if possible.
And if you are like Forrest and me, and both you and your spouse are attending school, this is even more important!
During the semester Jack was born, we planned everything perfect.
Well, until Forrest had to add one more class at the last second in order to maintain financial aid eligibility.
And since we were in such a rush to make sure we didn’t hit miss the add-drop deadline, he just added a racquetball class that happened to be right during my class. Big mistake! We were able to work it out, but it would have made life so much easier had we been a little more careful.
6) Baby Map Your Campus
7) Take “Alternative” Classes
It can be easier to take classes during the day, but when you have a child, consider looking into different options your school offers.
At BYU, they have evening, online, and even some weekend classes. I don’t know how I would have finished without these!
I often had classes that were in the late afternoon, early evening, and I’ve taken countless online classes.
The last semester I only had online classes, which was such a blessing.
Forrest was gone at his internship all day, and my sister (who often would watch Jack) moved away, which meant it was going to be hard to finish the last two classes I needed.
Luckily, BYU has an amazing Independent Study program (look into it if need to take some classes, even if you aren’t at BYU. They offer high school and university level courses) that had the two classes I needed to take. Online classes can present its own set of challenges, but for the most part, I am so grateful that I was able to do my last two classes online.
8) Take it One Day at a Time
Not every day is going to be easy.
You may feel so exhausted, and wonder if it’s worth it.
But take it from me — it is.
I can’t even describe the sense of accomplishment I felt as I walked across the stage last week to receive my diploma. Graduating was something I knew I had to do for myself and for my family.
College isn’t for everyone, and that’s totally fine, but for me, I wanted to finish.
But believe me, there were SO many days that I told Forrest I was done.
Luckily, those moments didn’t last for long, and I pushed through.
Just remember that you can do it, even if it takes you longer than the average student.
Even if your school starts sending you emails, encouraging you to finish, just do everything the best you can. And most importantly, stay positive!
Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is currently training to be a Certified Lactation Educator. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.
Alyssa S. Fillian says
I am a mother of a one year old boy and I just recently found out I’m pregnant with baby #2. I am beyond nervous since I’m supposed to start college around my due date. I’m totally at a lost on how everything will work out for me. I’m afraid I’ll be to exhausted and back out.
I would meet with a school counselor as soon as you can!
Thank you for you very motivating post! I’ve had very high hopes of finishing college and perhaps even double majoring. I already have a year of college under my belt, and decided to take a small break to spend extra time with my husband, since I was feeling very emotionally overwhelmed during my most recent semester. After doing some research, I decided to pursue my degree entirely online so we could finally get a start on our family (I thought a couple online classes at a time would be workable with that); lo and behold, the Lord decided to bless us with twins on the first go! Now, I had my doubts with taking care of just one child, but two?? I was wondering if should even start again on school this spring (2020) since that’s when the little ones are due, but I fear if I don’t, that I never will finish. And that would be a great disappointment. You spoke so highly about online classes, and I happened to find a college that offers degree programs completely online. Reading your post was very motivating especially when you share about how the reactions you received made you even more determined. I completely relate to that! In fact, some of my family don’t support me going back to school simply due to the fact that I will have two newborns to worry about. However, it is so important to me to finish, not just for myself but also for my family. It actually empowers me that my babies might actually be just old enough to vaguely remember my receiving my diploma. Anyways, I apologize for this long winded comment, but I would like so much to connect with someone about this who has been through this struggle. Any motivation/advise you can offer would be greatly welcomed. Thank you!
Amber Michele says
I read your comment and thought it was me who was writing it! I even postponed the courses I too was enrolled in because my baby is due NOW! (He is 4 days past due. January 10th was his day. It has come and gone, lol). I hope to enroll again in the Fall of 2020. But I too am feeling the pressure of whether or not it’s even going to work out. I’m so optimistic. But honestly, the financial aid paying for part time, opposed to full time, is what worries me the most. I know I could breeze part time. But full time was hard enough when I was single and childless!
Hang in there! You are going to do great!
This story is so beautiful! I decided in June 2018 to go back to college now knowing what I wanted to major in. I’m now half way through my first semester at a new college and it’s been exciting but challenging. I say challenging because I found out in September 2018 that I am pregnant with my second child and that’s when the morning sickness kicked in. I have 5 more weeks left in this semester and the morning sickness has started to subside but all I have been thinking about is how will it be when I attend college with a baby by my side Fall 2019? I thought about going to college during the summer but now I think I may need a break to focus on the baby for 2 months even though I may still work. What makes everything a bit easier for me is that I have a 6 year old daughter who loves helping her mommy, a wonderful husband and I attend college online so its more convenient for me to not have to drive out anywhere since I do work full time and I can be there for my daughter when she needs me especially after school. Next semester in March 2019 I will be half way through college to obtain my bachelors degree which does excites me but still worries me. I just hope I can make it through the last two years of college to finally receive my degree but this story gives me hope. Thank you so much!
Hi, I know this was written 6 years ago but I wanted to say thank you as I really needed to read it. I’m in my final year of college and I’m due to have my first baby this week. I’ve had exactly the same reaction from friends that you had…which is laughing and saying “yeah, good luck”. 99% of the time it definitely only makes me more determined to do it. However, sometimes I think what if they are right and I’m just being ridiculously naive. It’s a part time degree course and I will have 6 months maternity leave which covers the whole academic year. I’ve done as many assignments as possible before the baby comes, so I am feeling very confident. My husband is a teacher so he works short days and gets good holidays. The constant doubting does get to me sometimes though. Especially the last few days. I just keep visualising graduating and thinking it Will all be worth it 🙂 so thank you again for the inspiration!! I hope your 6 year old is well and you are enjoying whatever path your career took 🙂
I am so glad that you found my post and found some encouragement from it 🙂 I know that you can do it! My oldest is now in first grade, and my husband and I have our business working from home. Going to school with a baby was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but I am SO grateful that I did it. If you ever need someone to listen to you, you are always welcome to email me 🙂
That is very kind of you, thank you. I may just take you up on that if I’m losing hope 🙂
I had my little girl on Saturday and am more determined than ever that I can do it 🙂
Congrats on running your own business…that is no easy feat either! I hope it continues to do well.
You are doing great <3 Congrats on your sweet baby!
Hi! Your story really inspired me. I am currently enrolled in my freshman year of college and I have a little one that is on the way. This has given me new perspective on college with a baby. I already started looking in the bathrooms to find changing tables. These tips were really helpful.
Oh, I’m so glad! Best of luck!
Hi, your story really inspired me and I am at a point in my life and marriage where both my husband and I want to have a baby. Ive been taking classes to work towards my bachelors degree for a while now and I am almost at the point where I can apply to get into the program I have been trying to get into which would start fall 2019. Which means we would try to get pregnant end of this summer and give birth around may 2019 a few months before my program would start. Does it sound totally crazy to have a baby before starting this bachelors program? The program would also be online mainly with a few weekend lab classes throughout the whole program but not every weekend. I need some advice because my husband is just like “lets do it!” and I want to I just need advice.
Hi! I’m so glad you commented. Based on what you told me, I think this would be very reasonable for you to do this. So long as baby doesn’t have any issues after birth (and chances are, he or she won’t!), you should be okay, especially with it being primarily online 🙂 Please let me know if you have any other questions or need someone as a sounding board 🙂
I am a senior year BYU student who just had a baby mid-semester and chose to take 3 decently demanding classes (sound familiar haha). I came upon your article with similar questions and was so delighted to see you went to BYU, too. I find it so funny and the stereotype so real.
Your comment made me smile. Best of luck – it’s always nice to hear about another mom going through a similar situation. Six years later, and I don’t regret a thing!
Thanks you for sharing. This article will help a lot.
My name is lily I’m 19 and currently in hair school and just found out I’m about 5 weeks pregnant! I gave hair school a try cause I felt a little bit pressured by my boyfriends mom cause that’s all she ever told me I should go do! I had just gotten kicked out of my moms house so I was looking for guidance and I wish I hadn’t listened to signing up but i put on a happy face and signed up and I hate it ! I want to go to college to be a teacher but now I’m pregnant and I dont know how I could even handle it
This makes me happy to read. Together, my SO and I have 4 boys. We are about to try having one of our own. I work full time, my 10 yr old does competitive soccer, and have already decided to take classes online. I told my boss my plans this morning, and talk about negativity! “there’s no way you can get a degree with a baby” “there’s no way you’re going to be able to do it”
Cassandra Springer says
Thank you so much for your post! I’m a Mother of a toddler and a 4 month old and am going back to school this Spring semester while working full-time. I found this post very useful, but more importantly very motivating! You did a very difficult feat and I admire that so much! I’ve had many people tell me it’s impossible, which is also fueling my drive but I loved your article since it motivates me in a more positive manner to finish school. Thanks again!!
Thank you so much for this post. I am in the middle of an 8 week online summer course, scheduled for induction on week 5 of the class. I was starting to think I was insane for starting but its the last class I need to graduate and you make it sound achievable. 4 week, 4 weeks, 4 weeks.
Thank you for writing this. I have a year left of school and just had my baby and was wondering how I was going to be able to manage all of it. School is so important to me and it will help my baby and I have a better life, and this just really helped my mindset. 🙂
This is great ! this actually motivated me a lot considering the fact that I am having a baby boy and I am due June 10 2017. I took a semester off for my pregnancy and I do plan on going back in the Fall 2017 , but to a university that offers housing. This made me feel a lot better about actually going to school while having a baby and the simple fact that I will be a first generation graduate with a nursing degree in 2021. You are amazing and inspiring and I wish that more women would speak or start groups like this for college students with dependents.
Thank you, thank you, and thank you! I really needed this encouragement. I’ll be doing summer term when our little guy is due, and everyone has been telling me I am crazy, but I want to finish! This helped me see that I am not crazy and just need to have faith that it will all work out! Thanks for sharing; I will definitely be contacting my professors soon. 🙂
Amanda Wood says
This was very inspiring to me. 🙂 My fiance just went back to school this semester and I am planning on going back this fall. Our little girl is a little over a year. I was starting to feel apprehensive but this helped me to realize that it can be done with determination and hard work. Thanks very much!
I’m so glad you found it helpful! It may be hard at times, but it will be worth it! I hope all goes well!
Thank you so much for your inspiration. I have a six month old and currently pregnant with baby number 2 and I was determined to go back to school. But ever since I got accepted last week I’ve been questioning if it was really possible. Fortunately baby number 2 is due after the semester is over but I wanted to attend summer classes and not have to wait till fall (although I still might). The campus I’ll be attending has a daycare on site for my six month old which for a new mom is a big relief. Maybe this won’t be so bad. Thank you again for the for the words of wisdom.
You can do it! It may be hard, but will definitely be worth it in the end =)
kathryn owens says
Thank you so much for sharing this. My husband and i are expecting our first child in february and couldn’t be more excited. Having this child is making me want to be better and i want to continue school. Funny thing is i am going for journalism also and we live in colorado. Thank you for this inspiration. After having countless jobs I know that having a degree in the field that I want to will only be better for my family. Thank you !
Hi Kathryn! Thanks so much for your comment. Congratulations on your first child being due soon. Such an exciting time for you. I think the fact that you want to continue with college, despite having a child, is wonderful, and it’s a great example for your child. That is funny that you live in CO and are going into Journalism. What part of Colorado are you in? We are currently living in Englewood. Best of luck with everything! Let me know if you have any questions or ever need some moral support. It can be hard, but getting my degree was one of the best decisions I made!
Kylie Ramsey says
I am a senior in high school and my baby will not be born till February (just a couple months before I graduate) and by the time I get to college my baby will already be 6 months old! I definitely found this useful! I’m from western Oklahoma so I’m not sure if any of the universities and colleges are baby friendly but thanks to you I know what to look for!
I’m glad you found this helpful! I wish you the best of luck – it’s not easy, but it’s so, so worth it to get your degree. What a great example you are setting for your child!
I found that I was able to get ahead and thus take on a fuller course load by asking my fall professors at the end of the spring semester if it would be possible to get stated on major assignments early and thus I was able to have all my assignments done by fall and just had to attend classes and study for quizzes and exams. I had a few poor weeks in there where I couldn’t afford the cost of diapers and had to use old adult T-shirts and pins to diaper my baby but the lack of diapers worked out just fine and the baby is now a healthy three year old. I started with a 2 year old, 5 month old and pregnant and am about to graduate with a double major in May. Also Amazon.com is amazing. I have literally saved thousands of dollars by buying prior edition textbooks for pennies on Amazon rather than buying them at the college book store.
Some time saving tips:
When you can, use cliff notes, or get the audio version of a textbook and listen to it as you wash dishes or do laundry. Hand’s free reading while breastfeeding was easier to do with a basic (not touch screen) Kindle than with a book because kids like to mess with pages. Sometimes my school library had my textbook in a prior edition that I was able to borrow rather than buy. It is often easier to get the overview of a subject on Wikipedia rather than reading your textbook. Use Wikipedia to find sources. I Google answers on fill in the blank assignments rather than hunting them down in the textbook because usually it takes less time.
On house work:
Somethings gotta give with only 24 hours to a day, three kids, two majors, and me being a homeowner everything takes turn being priority. I don’t fold laundry if someone want’s their laundry folded they can do it themselves. I wash it, dry it and stuff it in the drawers. Drawers are labeled with pictures for the kids. Tops, Bottoms, Socks & underwear and anything else, I hang mine and my husbands clothes. And I have minimized my life. Each kid has a different color sock because sorting and matching socks I don’t have time for, nothing is dry clean only and each person in our house only has 10 outfits they can mix and match per season. I don’t even sort laundry, we don’t own white outer clothing and if it bleeds it leaves, I will not hang onto it. I make our own detergent and all other household cleaners/ toiletries it takes a minute each time and saves hundreds per year. Till my oldest was 5 I kept her hair short just to have one less thing to do in the morning. I still don’t have time for makeup. I buy all my kids clothes at once season’s ahead of time at bag sales which take place in March at thrift stores or yard sales after the rain when they don’t want to have to dry all their clothes out to put them away for the next yard sale. I get them for $5.00 a bag and this way I cloth all three kids ever year for just $20.00 a year for all of them (I don’t forget shoes and snow boots). All my clothes come from thrift stores or yard sales.
I batch cook from scratch on the weekends as I find the time(last weekend was busy so all I made was a jar of Italian dressing mix).
I do bi-weekly shopping with a small trip in between for milk and bananas and any other odd things, I schedule parent teacher conferences, doctors visits and checkups for school breaks when possible. I don’t have a life aside from school, family and once a week church so I send my kids to head start to make friends. My mother in law cuts my kids hair for free, otherwise my son would have a buzz cut like my husband, and my daughter’s hair would be a slightly uneven bob. My hair gets cut at a local beauty school for $5.00 each time with my student discount I can get it for $4.00
This summer I plan on starting a garden to cut costs down and freezing and canning vegetables.
I didn’t have a fancy baby food maker just a hand held blender and ice cube trey and zip lock bags.
WIC program and Medicaid both lend out free breast pumps. If I ever pumped at home I put the pumps into the fridge rather than washing to prevent any germs from growing on them and I didn’t have to clean them every time. When I did clean the pumps sometimes I got lazy and soaked them in peroxide before wiping them down. I stored the milk in recycled glass condiment jars rather than spending money on plastic milk storage bottles that leach chemicals and I froze milk in ice cube trays and then stored them in sandwich baggies rather than buying expensive specially made milk storage bags.
Wow! Thank you for your very thoughtful and insightful comment. You have so many great tips and experience. I know it’s hard, but you are doing a great thing for yourself and your family. Thank you for taking the time to comment!
Stephanie Hammer says
I just wanted you to know that I read this and couldn’t agree more! I had my baby the Friday before classes started this past semester, and now that the semester’s over I feel like I can do anything! Once May comes and I graduate, I’m going to be so happy that I did. But it’s super hard, and I too tell my husband almost every day that I’m done haha! Anyways, you’re inspiring and I hope that many more people in our situation read this and are also inspired.
Thanks for sharing!
So sorry I’m just now responding! I am so beyond on my comments. Thanks for sharing your experience!
Hey! I just read your post! I am a college student and this spring is my last semester but i am due the first week of march! I have to take 4 classes to finish and they are only offered in the spring so i do not want to wait an entire year to finish when i am so close! I have talked to a few of the professors and they said they were willing to work with me while i missed a few weeks to go into labor but i am nervous i am being unrealistic. I just wanted to know how long you were on leave for when you had your son and how your semester turned out from it!
Hello! Thanks for commenting 🙂 First off, congratulations on your baby and for almost being done with school! What an exciting time for you 🙂 I didn’t go to class for two weeks. Assuming you have a relatively non-eventful labor and delivery, and everything is a-okay with your baby (which I’m sure will be the case!) I would imagine you’ll be feeling good enough to go back by that point as well. I tried to complete assignments before I went into labor, just to get ahead, and I ended up getting straight A’s that semester! It’s definitely doable. I’m not sure what kind of classes you are taking, but if you can get ahead with your assignments, definitely do that. Find a friend in your class who will be willing to take notes for you. You’ll be tired for that first little while after your baby is born, but really, the first month or so, your baby will sleep a lot! Definitely take advantage of that when doing assignments. Oh, and definitely keep in contact with your professors…that’s probably the most important thing. Good luck! Let me know if you have any other questions. 🙂
Did I read this wrong? Did you take baby to your classes on occasion?
I did actually take him on occasion. I know this wouldn’t fly at many universities, as BYU is unique in the aspect that teachers are accommodating, or even many of the classes at BYU it wouldn’t work. I was lucky enough that, in the classes I needed to bring him, that one of them only had 8 people, one had six, and one had three, and my little guy was very good. He was still at an age where he mainly just slept in his stroller, or let me hold him. And, obviously, if he did start crying, I took him out. I was the top performing student in all those classes as well, so it didn’t impact my learning, and everyone complained when I didn’t bring him. Like I said, it usually won’t work out so well like this, but I was very blessed to be able to bring him to some of my classes during those last few semesters so both my husband and I could finish.
Alice Emma Thompson says
Great tips – so impressed, well done you!
Thanks so much for sharing at The Friday Baby Shower Alice x