Graduate and child

Family College Helps Resident Students Balance Studies, Family Life

Being a parent is not easy, but having to manage college classes and parenting at the same time is a feat in itself. College students with children must balance their lives to accommodate both a commitment to higher education and family life.

A unique program at Buffalo State has allowed students with families to do just that. Started in 1997, Family College was designed to provide housing on campus for full-time students who are parents. As the only SUNY institution to offer this program to undergraduates, the campus has set aside apartments in Moore Complex to accommodate up to 20 undergraduate students and their families.

“Buffalo State College was beyond its time in 1997,” said Toni Phillips, complex director of Moore Complex and Tower 1. “Look at where we are now; the culture of a student fits no particular mold. Today, we have displaced workers and military personnel wanting to go back to school or come for the first time, and a lot of these people come with families. Buffalo State has the accommodations to meet the needs of such families.”

According to Phillips, an important feature of Family College is the integration of students with families and more-traditional students. Students with families are not segregated; instead the residence hall population is intermingled, creating a diverse community for the families and for other residents. Moore Complex also provides a family-friendly environment for the students and their children with a child play center, and activities such as holiday events and family programming. Family programming activities have included stress management, healthful eating, and story time, Phillips said.

The housing has a mix of two- and three-bedroom apartments that include a living room and kitchen area with a stove and refrigerator. The cost of a family dorm, like any campus housing, can be paid for with financial aid.

“I am excited about Family College and hope to continue to expand initiatives for the program,” added Phillips.

Phillips has presented at various workshops around the region and believes “that Buffalo State can be the benchmark on how other institutions can begin to meet the needs of an ever-changing student demographic.”

“The parent-student is not a new phenomenon,” she said, “but being able to accommodate the needs of that student demographic is far and few, and Buffalo State’s Family College program has been and continues to do just that.”

Though highly unusual for this time of year, Family College does have vacancies this semester, but Phillips points out that this is actually a positive for the program.

“This is a happy sign, as this means the program is aiding these students to be able to graduate and pursue a career, which not only changes one life but changes a family and even a generation,” said Phillips.

Phillips noted that there are always opportunities for students to grow and learn. She invites any faculty or staff members interested in creating workshops or opportunities for these students to aid with their family or school responsibilities to contact her. For more information, contact Phillips, 878-3809.