Student-parents balance school and family

(Photo By Kenny Haeffele)
Avery Pince, WSU sophomore, and her husband Joseph Pince, WSU senior, pose with their child Chris, age 3. Avery and Joseph Pince balance student life and being parents.

Nicole Rowley, a Weber State University student, spends her days teaching pre-kindergarten children various subjects at a local school, but at the end of her day, the teacher becomes the student. Rowley is not only a teacher and a WSU student, but also a mother to two teenagers. With so much on her schedule, Rowley said, she sometimes questions why she is doing it all.

“It’s hard trying to balance everything sometimes,” she said. “My husband is trying to finish his master’s degree. So it’s a little crazy at my house right now.”

Rowley said she came back to school because she didn’t want to be limited anymore. She said looking for a job after being a stay-at-home mother for years left her employers asking what qualifications she had.

Rowley’s son is old enough to be joining her on the WSU campus this year. She said it is awkward to see her son and his friends on campus, but that she thinks being in school while raising teenagers is giving them a good perspective on going to school younger.

“They are realizing it’s different when you’re young and single and you worry about you,” Rowley said, “as opposed to coming home and making sure their homework is done, before I get my homework done — and sometimes making sure my husband has his homework done before I get mine done.”

With Rowley’s three full-time lives as a WSU student, preschool teacher and mother, she has little time for anything else, but she said all of this is just normal for her.

“I honestly probably go to bed probably about 2 o’clock,” she said, “and I’m up at 5:30 every morning. That’s just what’s normal.”

Rowley isn’t alone with balancing being a student and a parent. Rebecca Bauer, a WSU senior in psychology, has two young children.

“I kind of multitask a lot,” Bauer said. “I will take my textbook outside with me while the kids play, or take it into the playroom while they play so I’m supervising.”

Bauer is a full-time student on scholarship. She said she loves having both identities as a student and a mother, even if it’s hard work.

“I can’t just do ‘mom’ only,” Bauer said. “When I do both, I feel like I have two separate identities, and it’s nice because then I’m learning and growing. If I’m happier with myself, I’m a better parent.”

Bauer said going to school while being a parent is having a positive effect on her children, even at their young ages.

“They know when I’m doing homework, and sometimes they are crabby about it,” she said, “but they are happy that I am, and it makes me feel like a better person, like I’m a good role model for them.”

Bauer used to take only online classes, but said she found the in-person classes to be more rewarding and that they allowed her to separate the spaces of mother and student. She even spent some time taking online classes while she was pregnant.

“I ended up going to school,” Bauer said. “Mid-semester (I was) having my baby. I was online, I did fine, I got a 4.0.”

Although both Rowley’s and Bauer’s husbands also go to school, it’s a somewhat different situation with Avery and Joseph Pince. Avery Pince is a WSU sophomore and her husband, Joseph Pince, is a WSU senior. They both have jobs on campus and also bring their son, Chris, to day care at WSU.

Joseph Pince described the way he and his wife balance their school lives and parent lives as “juggling.” He said they try to make sure each part of their lives gets the attention it needs.

“Sometimes things slip,” Avery Pince said, “and then you just pick up the slack on where they slip.”

She said that, when things slip, she and her husband re-evaluate. She also said having support is one of the most important parts of balancing student and parent life.

“Having support is good,” she said, “even with the kids understanding that they support us and we support them, and Joe and I support each other.”

To both Avery and Joseph Pince, education is a priority, and they said balancing parent and student life is worth it. They have two children, ages 3 and 5. With their daughter in school now too, Avery Pince said she has become a more relatable mother.

“We both have homework,” she said, “and we both have to listen to our professors and follow the rules.”

While many WSU students have their hands full just juggling the stress of upcoming finals, according to WSU demographics for 2011, 31 percent of WSU students have children they support.