How Higher Ed Should Respond to the “Shecession”

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Tanya Spilovoy, Director of Open Policy at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), joins the podcast to talk about institutional strategies for retaining our student mothers.

I remember a mom coming to class with her baby and saying I don't have childcare today because my my baby has a cold, and I realize that if she were going to be able to continue her education, she had to bring her baby to class. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect Evu podcast network. I'm Eric Olson with Helix Education and we're here today with Dr Tunyaspila boy, director of open policy at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Tommy'll welcome to the show. Hey, thanks so much for having...

...me. Really excited to talk with you today about institutional strategies for retaining and supporting our student mothers. But before we dig in, can you get the listeners a little background on both which he and your role? They're sure so. which he is the Western Interstate Commission for higher education and it's been around since one thousand nine hundred and fifty three. It's known for Strengthening Higher Education, Workforce Development and behavioral health throughout the western region. It serves fifteen states and two territories and the West and they're really known for sharing, creating knowledge, research and developing innovative solutions that address some of society's most pressing needs. So they promote high quality post secondary education to help states get the most out of technology investments and I mentioned before Behavioral Health Challenges. But really they try to improve lives across the West through innovation, cooperation, resource sharing and sound...

...public policy, I would say, which he is a leader in the nation on a lot of high red policy and I'm very proud to be part of it. My role particularly is leading the national consortium of open educational resources. It brings together all four regional compacts in the United States, so which he is one of, for regional compacts, which he is in the West, Mac, the midwestern higher education compact, is in the Midwestern states. Nevvy, which is a New England board of Higher Education, serves the New England region and Sirad, the Southern Regional Board of Higher Education, serves all case welves and higher red in the southern states of the United States and the NCO are fits directly at the center of all all of those regional compacts and our primary role is to increase the youth of open educational resources in states and systems...

...and institutions. We're trying to reduce the cost of education for students and increase equity and access to higher education through oe are. We're funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and it's going really well. Love that background, Love Your missional focus and I'm so excited for you bringing your unique perspective to this topic today. Tony, can you kick us off with just a high level overview on what we know, at least so far, about the pandemics effects on what the Institute for Women's Policy Research is calling a she session? Effects on women for the pandemic were catastrophic in terms of their learning outcomes, their work and career aspirations and a lot of impacts on women's mental health and their ability to work in the workforce. There was such a huge change for women...

...and while I think that we've always kind of thought we would, we could do it all, and that has been the message in society. You know that nine to five jingle, that women can fry at the Bacon and bring home the money and take care of the kids and just do it all. That is not true and we've seen it happened during the pandemic in high numbers where women were leaving the workforce and having a really difficult time doing it all. Yeah, let's dig into that. How well supported on average do you believe working student mothers across higher at our today, potentially pre pandemic and during well, we had. I remember when I first started my research for my dissertation and I was really interested in online education and student outcomes and I noticed...

...when I was a dean that a lot of the students who weren't doing so well we're women and mothering women, and we would advertise that group of people a lot in our advertisements, where you would show a mother sitting at a desk doing your homework with a happy little child next to her and everything in the room was clean and everyone looked fed and happy and she was getting everything done in the daylight. And those things just are not true. The reality is that women have to take care of all the household items, all the childcare and then there's this third shift where women would stay up late and do their homework, and that was really exasperated during the pandemic because kids didn't go to school anymore and when child care centers set down and elementary schools had to go to remote learning, women didn't have time then to address their own needs...

...at home or do their school work, and a lot of a lot of mothers either had to quit their jobs or try to do remote work from home, which, with everything going on, made it really difficult. Yeah, and with all that, let's start talking about support strategies by pointing at some of the institutions that you believe are running some really interesting and effective initiatives today. I really am impressed with some of the schools who are really focused on community college students and students in minority populations. One of the ones that I think is a real beacon of life and a great example for those looking for strategies to help student mothers is United Tribes Technical College. It's a small community college, Technical College, and it serves native students from all of the country...

...and within the campus they have a grade school that serves the students children. So the college students children attend an elementary school and they have all of the elementary services that kids could need and there's also a daycare right on campus. This campus also both family living community, so they have housing for students where parents and families can live together and it really creates a nice community that incorporates culture and a lot of resources, you know, mental health, medical help and all kinds of other cultural activities that bring people together. And how about pedagogically, how should our faculty be thinking about what Student Center teaching practice looks like, should look like for our student mothers? I think that probably if I could just use one of my own examples, I was a pretty new teacher when I started working at United Tribes Technical College. I was teaching adult...

...basic education, of teaching English classes, and I remember a mom coming to class with her baby and saying I don't have childcare today because my my baby has a cold, and I realized that if she were going to be able to continue her education she had to bring her baby to class and we just had the baby in class. It was it was new and exciting and there were challenges and at times I held the baby while studs working and the times she did someone else did, and I think that there's a moment where we have to decide what our priorities are, and if the priority is that we serve students and support them where they are, then there might need to be moments when the baby comes to class. When I was a little girl, my mom went back to school, so she was first jen you know,...

...back in the I don't want to say the year, but forever. I was like, Oh no, I'm going to do the math here. Yes, if you went back to school, when I was a second greater and the college teachers let my sister and I come to college, and I remember either we would sit in this teachers lounge and that's when the professor's smoked, so I remember it vividly, and or sometimes I went to class with her. The interesting thing about that is that when I went to college later, a college student, I remember sitting in a sociology class and I thought I know this. How do I how do I know this information? And then I remembered, Oh, I learned this when I was in second grade with my mom as a student in college. So there were professors who were supporting student mothers all along the way. It just always hasn't been something that we've...

...talked about or shared. It was something that individual faculty took it upon themselves because they really cared about their students. I think now what we're seeing is more of a shift where we're bringing research and attention to these, this population of students and really showing how supporting them can make a different pedagogically and also long term for their student success. I mean, I think that if those teachers wouldn't have allowed my mom to bring me and my sister to class or let us sit in the break room, she probably wouldn't have succeeded either, and now she's been a special education teacher for thirty years. So it was a win for everybody. I love your point on shining a spotlight on the research and bring attention to this. I love that you were able to today point us to some instances of institutional support strategies as well as pedagogical academic support...

...strategies. Any next steps advice you want to leave us with? Institutions listening to this, aware of the problem, not fully aware of what they can do to combat this very integrated and intricate issue, but they want to better support and best support their student mothers where should they start? Well, we just saw some recent research that said that a lot of student parents were unaware of the resources that were available on their campuses and that was telling. So there's sometimes when institutions set up wonderful resource censers but parents just don't know about it. So over the course of the year they emailed randomly selected students from low income households and they invited them to visit their adults advocacy and resource center, and it was a hub at Amarillo College in Texas, and they found...

...that that increase the utilization of that hub, particularly among students who are the most risk of leaving college, and they had a huge impact. They were twenty percent more likely to pass their courses because the college did this nudging and I think this might be a new interesting technique that we could use for college students who have children who might be overwhelmed, not know about the resources that are available to them and just aren't accessing the facilities on campus that could really help them. There's so many great examples out there of institutions that are providing care and resources for their students, like a California State University pregnant and parenting students initiatives. There's really wonderful resources, but students have to be able to access them. So I would just give advice that if, even if you have resources on your campus, be sure that the students know about them and...

...have access and might they might need a little nude to get there and access the resources that you have. Kanya, grateful for your nudge and your spotlight. Thank you so much for your time today. What's the best place for listeners to reach out? If they have any follow up questions? They can contact me at Kanya. That's Solo Voy at gmailcom. That's fine if they want to know more, and they can also look at the mcoe are web page at which ee awesome. Danya, thanks so much for joining us today. Thank you so much. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new...

...content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix educationcom playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show and Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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