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Old 04-13-2012, 04:34 PM   #1
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star 18 year old Single Dad in College

Carrying a toddler with his course load

Peabody native is first single father to enter 4-year-old residential program at Endicott College for student parents and their children

By April Simpson, Globe Staff | August 28, 2007



BEVERLY -- In an ice-breaker exercise at Endicott College's freshman orientation, 18-year-old Mike Schieding had to tell other students two truths and one lie.


"I said I was a teen father, I was the manager of my job, and, at one point, I lived in another state," said Schieding, a broad-shouldered teenager who wears silver hoops in his ears. "All the guys thought I was lying when I said I was a teen father."


But the lie was that Schieding has never lived in another state.
The Peabody native will be the first single father to enter a 4-year-old residential program for single parents and their children at Endicott, one of eight private colleges in the nation with full residential offerings for single parents.


Schieding is the first teenage father to qualify for Endicott's program, which requires participants to be between age 18 and 24, have only one child, and meet the same academic requirements as traditional Endicott students, the program's coordinator said.


In the exercise, the other young men lost interest in him as soon as he disclosed that he was sharing his on-campus apartment with his 17-month-old son.


"It's the teen girls who feel for me more, but the guys they just think: 'Oh, he can't hang out. I'm not going to waste my time on him anymore,' " Schieding said.


Schieding said he is used to seeking advice from single moms because he has not come in contact with many single dads. But gender differences have shown him that mothers and fathers are "not exactly on the same page."


"Unfortunately, there's not many teen fathers" raising children on their own, Schieding said.


But in the future, he may find a lot more company. In 2006, there were 2.5 million single fathers, up from 1.15 million in 1990, and 400,000 in 1970, according to the US Census Bureau. And, in a survey the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers conducted among its 1,600 members last year, 22 percent said they have seen a rise in decisions awarding the father custody.


"There are a lot of single mothers, but there are also single fathers, and the number is increasing," said Jill Sullivan, director of the Keys to Degrees program at Endicott. "They're in the same place when they come out of high school, and they need to be given the opportunity" for an education.
Earlier this week, 21-year-old Jessica Hartigan, a single mom, offered to meet Schieding at a downtown cafe to discuss balancing parental responsibilities with a full academic course load at Endicott.


"When other people can leave class and do their homework, they can get all A's, but with us, it's a lot harder," said Hartigan, a sophomore majoring in graphic design, as she wiped away the crumbs her 2-year-old son spread while eating a sugar cookie. "You can't start your homework until the kids go to sleep."


In high school, Schieding said, he never took academics seriously and did not intend to apply to college, especially after his longtime girlfriend became pregnant and gave birth during his junior year.


"When I first saw him, I was like, 'I'm not ready,' " he recalled.


Schieding had trouble keeping a job, going to school, and caring for his son, Skyler. Schieding took full custody of his son last October. Skyler's mother lives in Danvers and sees the child twice a week, Schieding said.


As his familial responsibilities piled up, Schieding said, he watched his friends get into trouble for starting fights and using drugs.


"When [Skyler] came into my life, I had to get a good education for him and be a role model," said Scheiding, who intends to major in criminal justice and wants to become a juvenile probation officer.


He turned his C grade average to A's and B's his senior year, but he still did not think college was an option until a guidance counselor told him about Endicott's program, which first was offered in 1993, and then took a five-year hiatus as the historically two-year women's college transitioned into a four-year coed school.


The school and grants cover more than 80 percent of the $35,000 tuition and room and board for the single parents. The program has a 71 percent retention rate and will have nine students this fall.


Schieding said he doesn't expect to have too much trouble taking care of Skyler without his parents' help, but paying the bills will be tough. He plans to work part time.


All his efforts, he said, are focused on academics and Skyler. "I do want to see him succeed," Schieding said.


April Simpson can be reached at asimpson@globe.com.

Read More:http://www.boston.com/news/local/art...s_course_load/
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