SSU first university in country to launch student parent survey
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Student parents find they are particularly vulnerable to changes in campus resources, such as cuts to programs or services such as EOP or tutoring, long waiting lists at childcare programs or increases to tuition or student fees.

Sonoma State University Sociology Professor Sheila Katz, senior human development major and McNair Scholar Holly Phillips will launch the first national project to survey the needs and experiences of students who are also parents. The Student Parent Survey will explore the challenges of being a student and a parent, the effectiveness of campus resources and ways that SSU or other universities can better serve student parents. The SSU data will be part of a national dataset being compiled by the research team at universities across the country.

Students who are also parents can take the survey at

SSU is the first university in the country launching the survey, a project of the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR)'s Student Parent Success Initiative. IWPR, located in Washington D.C., designed the survey in collaboration with an advisory board of researchers from across the country, which Katz has served on since 2011. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, as a part of their higher education initiative through a grant to IWPR, funded the development of the survey.

The SSU portion of the project is funded by Phillips’ SSU undergraduate research grant and Katz’s research funding. Students who complete the survey can enter to win one of ten $20 gift cards in appreciation for their participation.

Katz and Phillips have been working on the project together since September 2012. 

“I'm really excited to be part of this project because coming back to school for me has been important for my family, and I want to create that opportunity for other families,” Phillips said.

Katz added, “Holly and I are delighted to have SSU be the first campus launching the survey. 

“Working with IWPR on this project is so inspiring. Their leadership researching issues associated with women's economic equality and educational access goes back over two decades, and this project is an excellent next step in that work.”

Phillips and Katz will present this research at the Pacific Sociological Association annual meetings in Portland, OR in late March and Phillips will present it at the McNair Scholar Symposium at SSU on April 8.

For more information about the project, e-mail Katz at or

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