How Birth Control Can Help You Finish CollegeApril 03, 2012
You finish high school with excellent grades and are accepted to a top-rated community college right down the street. In addition to interesting classes, college provides a new freedom for you and your boyfriend, who attends the same school. Part of this liberating feeling of finally being an adult means that you begin to have unprotected sex.
Fast forward a year.
You are in your room with a problem set for chemistry that is due the next day. Your 3-month-old baby is hungry and needs to be changed. Unfortunately, it’s your homework that has to be ignored, and soon you’re skipping class because you don’t want to face the embarrassment of showing up without your homework done.
Getting through college is difficult on its own, and when factors like an unplanned pregnancy are added into the mix, it can become virtually impossible. In fact, 61 percent of women who have children after enrolling in community college fail to earn degrees. But a new campaign from the American Association of Community Colleges and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy could change that. Their new program, Make It Personal: College Completion, aims to improve community college graduation rates by helping students avoid unplanned pregnancies. AAUW college/university partner members Palo Alto College and Mesa Community College are two of the schools participating in Make It Personal.
According to research that was conducted for the project, good pregnancy planning would result in a noticeable increase in community college graduation rates. In a related survey, 87 percent of community college students believe that being pregnant would make it more difficult to complete their education. However, 35 percent said that they were likely to have sex without any form of birth control in the next three months.
To make sure that students are educated about birth control, Make It Personal is reaching them in innovative ways. Because two-year schools are less likely to have health centers and student services, contraceptive information is being disseminated through traditional academic courses. In addition to working campaign material into English and biology classes, Palo Alto College recently assigned a reporting class to write press releases for a local advocacy group that works on teen pregnancy.
Though birth control has been the subject of political controversy lately, this campaign strives to be a nonpartisan project by helping “students build broader awareness and knowledge of pregnancy planning and family stability and how these relate to all students’ personal and postsecondary education goals.”
At AAUW, we pride ourselves on ensuring that information about women’s health is widespread. It is so important for young women and men to not only have a comprehensive understanding of birth control but also to be aware of its importance in today’s political climate. By mastering the fundamental information about birth control, they will be able to establish their own opinions and understand the ways in which birth control access is being attacked in 2012. At the end of the day, knowledge is power.
This post was written by AAUW Leadership Programs Intern Meredith Spencer-Blaetz.