Managing the books in between diaper changes

Many college students struggle to balance their studies with extra curricular activities, jobs and other aspects of their lives that require tending to. And then there’s the small minority who must also juggle the lives of their children.

I just joined the latter.

On Oct. 18, my daughter Mariana Austin Trombetta joined the world.

With just over a month left in my college education, suddenly everything has been put into perspective. While the difficulty of everything I attempt to accomplish has multiplied exponentially, I now have more motivation than I ever could have imagined. I have a wife and a child.

And I am not alone.

Candice Church is a senior at Castleton State College and is married with a 5-year-old son at home.

“They consume your lives,” Church said.

That is no longer news to me. Neither is her take on the effect of the child on her schoolwork.

According to Church, having a child is an inspiration for her in her academic endeavors.

“Because I’ve already had a child I hold myself more responsible for my schoolwork,” Church said. “My son sees mom doing homework and it is teaching him good habits.”

While my infant daughter is probably not getting much out of watching daddy type stuff on the computer, she is definitely helping me do my best.

As a non-traditional student, at 24-years-old, I am not much like the rest of the college population. After a couple years of aimless wandering, I decided to come to CSC to end the undergraduate chapter of my life.

According to Denny Shramek, English professor at CSC, non-traditional students often come back to college with a better understanding of what college can provide them with.

“They are likely to have children,” Shramek said. “They’ve got somebody to protect. The purpose of the studies is to better provide for the kids.”

With the added responsibilities of parenthood comes the absolute need to succeed.

That need was put into perspective by 23-year-old senior Billy Thompson. His daughter will be three in a couple of weeks.

He spoke about the effects that having a young daughter has on his academic life.

“It’s had a positive influence and made me focus,” Thompson said. “I realize that there’s no screwing around anymore.”

Aside from the motivational advantages of being a college student with a child, there are some other benefits that are often overlooked.

Take CSC junior Jessica Clay for example. She has four kids. The oldest is her 15-year-old daughter.

“Last semester she helped me with my algebra homework,” Clay said.

Motivation and algebra assistance aside, there are the obvious hindrances associated with being a college student with children too.

Both Thompson and I experienced the birth of our first born child mid-semester. The unfortunate timing of the birth of my daughter forced me to miss a highly anticipated exam with Shramek. Thompson’s experience was similar.

“She was two days old and I had to leave the hospital to go to class,” Thompson said. “Then go back to the hospital and spend the night there.”

He and I agree that it wasn’t easy. But while it wasn’t easy, and remains difficult every day, it is the real world and the show must go on.

“I have the same due date as everybody else,” Thompson said.

Now if only my infant daughter would get to sleep on time. Such a procrastinator.

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