For Admitted Students who are also Parents
As I write this, three other humans that I call family are a few feet away doing what other humans do: eating, talking, and relaxing after a day at school and work. I am a master’s student at HGSE, and I am a parent to two children, a 7th grader and a 4th grader. If you are a newly-admitted student and a parent, congratulations on your admission to the Harvard Graduate School of Education! And especially hearty congratulations are in order, given you probably wrote your statement of purpose while cooking dinner, and you studied for the GRE between changing diapers or helping with homework.
There are many student-parents here, and our kids’ ages range from infant to high schooler. At the beginning of the semester Harvard hosted a gathering for us to meet each other. For those who brought kids to Cambridge, our kids attended this event to enjoy pizza and cupcakes, to color, and to watch a movie together. Both of my kids made new friends. Several parents also attended whose kids did not move to Cambridge. As student-parents, it was invaluable to meet each other because we’ve supported each other as the year progressed.
You are facing challenging decisions about whether to bring your kids to Cambridge, where to live, where to send them to school, etc. I hope to offer some helpful advice. First, HGSE is the best possible place to attend school with kids in tow! My cohort is a tight-knit, caring community, and more than once, one of them has come over to make my kids enchiladas, play board games, and provide my family with a sense of community. On one particular day, I had a childcare crisis, and I called a fellow classmate for help. She dropped everything and picked my daughter up from school, keeping her company until I could get there. HGSE is filled with caring educators who are great with children, and this makes a huge difference in the level of support I feel as a student-parent.
Second, regarding school for your children, I am only able to speak to my experience with Cambridge Public Schools. I am grateful for and impressed with CPS. We took care when choosing our Harvard housing to make sure it fell within the city limits of Cambridge, as Harvard also has housing in Somerville and Boston. Once you have a Cambridge lease, you can immediately enroll your kids in school. They use a choice-based lottery, so you will list your top three schools, and CPS will accommodate one of your choices if possible. If your kids are not in school yet, you will probably need approximately 42 hours of childcare per week in order to keep up with your studies. Get on the waiting lists right away if applying to a childcare center. And finally, if you want to have time with your kids on weekends, make sure the classes you choose do not have weekend or Monday morning deliverables, if possible.
I wish you the best in making the series of important decisions that surround caring for your kids while studying at Harvard. I view this as a year of education for the whole family, as my kids’ horizons are expanded by being in a diverse community with vibrant educational opportunities. Ultimately, you will make the best choices possible for your family and for your kids, and this community will embrace and support all of you.
Blog written by Heather Hargrave Roberts
Heather Hargrave Roberts studies Human Development and Psychology at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, with a focus on adult and leadership development.