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Being a Parent and a Student During COVID-19

Penn State World Campus students balance many commitments — including, for some of you, being parents. If you are having a hard time planning for your fall semester in the midst of uncertainty, you are not alone. You may be awaiting word from your children’s school district or daycare about their plans for opening in the fall, and you may wonder, even if the school or daycare opens, whether it will stay open through the fall semester. These situations may also make you feel uncertain about your own academic plans. Will you have time for your courses while balancing these concerns? While each individual situation is different, there are things you can consider as you begin the semester.

Ensure you are taking a course load that makes sense for you.

If you are concerned about having time for your courses, you could consider taking fewer courses, which allows you to balance your concerns with making progress toward your degree. If you reduce your credit load, keep in mind there may be implications to your financial aid, so contact the Financial Aid office prior to making your decision. You should also work with your academic adviser to identify any courses you should prioritize to keep you on track for your degree.

Remember that reducing your credit load after the semester starts can have academic and financial implications, as well. Before the semester starts, familiarize yourself with academic and financial considerations for dropping or late-dropping courses. You can research fall semester deadlines related to dropping and late-dropping courses on the fall academic calendar. There is also a calendar for each of your courses in LionPATH. You can watch a video about how to find this calendar.

If you are not planning to enroll in any Penn State courses in a fall or spring semester, consider taking a leave of absence before the semester begins. This will allow you to maintain active student status without carrying any credit during the upcoming semester.

Make a plan now to communicate with your instructor(s) about any unexpected challenges that may arise.

Introduce yourself to your instructors at the beginning of your course(s) and open the door to future communication. Know about policies related to deferred grades and academic forgiveness that could help you with your decision-making.

If you are not sure how to start a conversation with your instructor or find yourself feeling intimidated by it, consider using this LinkedIn Learning resource to expand your digital communication skills.

Identify resources for feelings of stress, burnout, and other mental health concerns.

When you’re balancing parenting with online learning and your other commitments, it is normal to feel stressed under ideal circumstances. And the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic are certainly less than ideal. Give yourself a pat on the back for being both a student and a parent, in addition to any other roles you carry (spouse, employee, volunteer, etc.)!

Don’t forget you can access mental health case management and related services as part of your World Campus student status. Additionally, you can read about time management resources for parents studying and working from home on our blog.

We also recommend these other resources for responding to stress, burnout, and other concerns: