How To Survive Attending College with a Baby

Having a baby, or any number of kids, while you are in college can be rough. However, it is possible to still get a college education with a baby in tow. Here’s how Forrest and I survived attending college with a baby, and both were able to graduate. 

surviving-college-with-a-baby

Be sure to join our NEW parents in college Facebook support group!

Right after I announced my pregnancy, I ran into an acquaintance at the store. I mentioned that I was pregnant, and soon after 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 — and that less than five-minute encounter with a girl (who I wasn’t really even friends with) became one of my driving forces to finish.

And guess what? 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.

Sure, it was harder than going to school as a childless person, but it was do-able, and I want to help others know that it is possible to do if that’s their goal. Granted, I am lucky enough to go to a very “baby-friendly” school, and the classes for my major were generally very small and I could bring Jack occasionally, but even if you don’t go to a school like that, know that you can graduate if you want to. Having a baby isn’t the end of your life — it’s just the beginning of a new adventure! Here are some tips if you are going to college with a baby (or even any child) in tow.

1) Take less classes

This can be a pain, especially if you are trying to finish as quickly as possible. But I’ve found that it was so much do-able 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, especially if they are difficult, it might become difficult to balance baby time, and school time. You want to be able to devote time to both of these important things

2) Enlist Help

Just accept this now – it is near impossible to get through college with a baby or other child without any help. We’ve been so blessed to have family nearby for the majority of time we’ve had Jack. But even if that isn’t possible, ask close friends or even friends from community or church friends. Don’t take advantage of people, of course. If someone agrees to help you, make sure to give them plenty of notice, and offer to trade babysitting, or even pay if you need someone a lot.

3) Talk with professors

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 there may occasionally be an emergency come up. When I was pregnant and due to have Jack 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 was more than happy to work with me. I actually ended up doing almost all my assignments before Jack was born (one of hte perks of only taking two classes) and got a great grade in the class. We communicated a lot during the time that Jack was born, and when he was in the hospital, 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 apperance. I know that they appreciated that, and welcomed Jack when he did come with me(because who wouldn’t — cutest baby ever!) 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 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, 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 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 got married, since our income has been 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 I, 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

I know what you are thinking… Huh? Let me explain. Most schools were not created with babies in mind. Not every bathroom has a changing table. And we’ve found this out the hard way. You’d think that a school like BYU would have one in every bathroom, but this was so not the case. We soon discovered that importance of knowing which bathrooms had changing tables, and I found which bathrooms had nice, soft couches where I could nurse Jack. If you have time before your baby is born, take a tour of all the bathrooms. And if you do happen to be at BYU, you’re in luck. Someone has done all that work for you.
Also be sure to figure out the best routes around campus. Luckily, we have a lot of wheelchair ramps on campus, but occasionally, I ran into a situation where I had to carry Jack’s stroller up some stairs. Find out if buildings you have classes in have ramps, or if you’ll need to take an elevator…and find where those are too! And be aware of outages for elevators. On one unfortunate occasion, the elevators in the building where the majority of my classes took place were out of service! And I had to carry my stroller, and Jack, to and from the third floor. Not fun. Some nice boy took pity on me and helped me, but I wish I would have realized this and brought my baby carrier instead!

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. This past 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, 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 it’s 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!

Written By
More from Katie

Chocolate Caramel Corn Puffs and 44 Other Snacks for Family Reunions

This chocolate caramel corn puff recipe is easy and incredibly addictive! It’s...
Read More

17 Comments

    • 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.
  • 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. :)
  • Hey Katie! 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!
  • 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!
  • 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!
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *