DALLAN BOYD | Scroll Photography

Childlessness drops for college women

DALLAN BOYD | Scroll Photography

DALLAN BOYD | Scroll Photography

The Pew Research Center released a new study May 7 showing that childlessness among women, specifically those who have received graduate degrees, has decreased.

“Moms ages 40 to 44 who lack a high school diploma have about 2.9 children in their lifetimes, on average, while those with a high school diploma or some college have about 2.4 kids,” according to Gretchen Livingston, who conducted the research for The Pew Research study. “Mothers at the end of their childbearing years who have a bachelor’s degree or higher have about 2.2 children on average.”

The study focuses specifically on college postgraduates between the ages of 40-44 and how the number of women having children between these ages has increased significantly, whereas before, it was less likely for women to have children during these ages, according to The Pew Research Center.

“Among women with a bachelor’s degree or more, about one in five are childless — 19 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree only; 22 percent for those with a master’s degree; and 20 percent for those with an M.D. or Ph.D.,” according to Livingston.

There were 3,893 married students, or 25 percent of enrolled students, attending BYU-Idaho in Fall of 2014, according to the BYU-I enrollment statistics Web page.

“The most challenging part would be to balance everything,” said Anna Hernandez, a senior studying sociology. “I need to put aside enough time to go to class, do my readings, complete my homework, as well as make sure our schedules don’t conflict so that someone is at home with the girls and make sure that I am not neglecting them as they learn and grow.”

Both students and professors who choose to have children may face difficulties while still attending school, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy and Research.

“When I started school, I didn’t think I would,” said Ben Pingel, a communication professor at BYU-I.  “But once we got married, we just felt it was the right thing to do, so we had kids right away.” 

Janae Griffiths, a junior studying early childhood/special education, said the biggest challenge she has faced from being a mother and continuing her education is leaving her son at home to attend school and feeling like she is ignoring him when she has to work on homework.

“We know that having children is our most important calling, and so for us, it was a high priority,” said Rylea Farrens a junior studying child development. “We actually had planned on waiting longer than we did. Of course, the fact that I still had some schooling gave us pause, but when the Lord says go, you go. If that included the time when we were attending school, then we were ready  for that.”

Although many challenges might arise as students and teachers choose to have children while attending university, there are also many blessings that come too, said Anne Papworth, an English professor at BYU-I.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Papworth said. “Being a student, working full time and having small children was, and is hard, but I also recognize that being in school and working with the university has allowed me more flexibility with my children than I would have had if I had taught in public schools or worked.”

Although childlessness among women is decreasing, the number of children women choose to have has halved compared to the amount of children women used to have, according to The Pew Research Center.

“My wife and I have found it to be a very spiritual experience each time we decided to have a child,” Pingel said. “Our first was born a week after our first anniversary and a month after my wife graduated. We had our second child a year later and just a couple weeks after I had graduated. We just felt that we shouldn’t wait in our case for school to be done with before starting our family.”

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