So much has been asked of caregivers, especially those in the process of getting a college degree and balancing home and work responsibilities through the pandemic. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 4.8 million college students are simultaneously raising children. There also exists a great number of student caregivers who fall into the “sandwich generation”–those who are raising children and supporting their adult relatives simultaneously.
In a recent UNC Chapel Hill survey, more than 1 in 20 students identified as caregivers. These same caregivers are overwhelmingly women, financial aid recipients and part-time students who often reported lower GPAs and higher instances of anxiety and depression. As the number of student caregivers is expected to grow, colleges and universities must identify and offer unique services to this demographic.
Higher-ed institutions must empower student caregivers to succeed or risk seeing dropout and stop-out rates rise among these learners. To meet each student caregiver’s changing needs, there are a few focal points higher-ed leaders can prioritize to enhance their experience and put them on the path to academic success.
Offer Flexible Course Delivery Methods
In a global survey 80 percent of students prefer a hybrid learning model so they have more flexibility with online courses. This, no doubt, includes student caregivers who need to have more virtual options when it comes to course offerings and advising appointments, balancing school with the demands of their home life. For example, a single mother who is taking care of small children and lives off campus will likely have more difficulty coming to multiple in-person classes four times per week.
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