Sonoma State launches first Student Parent Survey

The National Student Parent Survey, recently begun at Sonoma State University and launched by Sociology Professor Sheila Katz and Human Development major Holly Phillips, is the first of its kind in the nation.

This survey is a project conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The survey is geared towards current Sonoma State students who are either pregnant or have a child, recent alumni who have had kids, or students who became pregnant while attending Sonoma State. The survey asks questions about their educational background, parental status, employment, future goals, and college experience. 

“[The survey’s purpose is] to understand the challenges and experiences of students who have children,” said Katz. She has been working with the Institute for Women’s Research for 15 years. She began working on this survey in December 2011 and Phillips joined her in September 2012. 

Phillips is a McNair Scholar and is working on this project for the McNair Scholarship program. Phillips is also a student-parent who transferred to Sonoma State from the Santa Rosa Junior College. When she transferred to Sonoma State, Phillips wanted to feel like a part of the community as she did at the Santa Rosa Junior College. She gathered information from the campus resource book she was given at orientation and researched some areas of interests which led her to engaging in the McNair program. 

“The student-parent survey represents creating a clearer path for other student-parents, and the children affected by their success or failure both here at SSU and across the Nation,” said Phillips. 

“It’s important that student-parents have particular resources on campus that allow them to feel as though their children are taken care of while they are pursuing higher education. Light needs to be shed on these students as they are full-time students and full-time parents,” said Katz. 

The Children’s School on campus is a resource that provides early childhood education for children of student-parents, staff and faculty. Parents with children ages 1 to 5 years old are eligible to apply for program. Eligible children are subject to be wait-listed for a long period of time because there are limited spaces. 

“I know that other students haven’t been able to receive the same amount of support, specifically in other departments. Parents who aren’t able to get their children into the center or have kids older or younger than those they serve are at a huge disadvantage,” said Sonoma State student-parent Beatriz Alcazar. 

Alcazar is a transfer student from Santa Rosa Junior College. She became pregnant her first semester at the Santa Rosa Junior College and faced many challenges as a parent and student. She took leave from pursuing education during her pregnancy and still managed to complete school in timely manner. 

“There are many stereotypes and misconceptions about student parents that I think influence the support and funding of programs that would help us out. The truth is that we are motivated, dedicated and eager to pursue education just as much as our peers,” said Alcazar.

The survey has already received 65 responses and Katz and Phillips are looking to publicize this survey further to receive as much feedback as possible from students. They are working with the Financial Aid office to send direct emails to students who claim a dependent on their FAFSA forms. They are actively recruiting people and hosted a student-parent pizza party at Lobo’s on Monday that gave students more information about the survey. The survey can be found at: