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Include child in application?

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Hey there,


I've been lurking for a while now and I've seen that you guys give very helpful advice, so I've decided to sign up and ask a question, too. (I've checked briefly with the search function if there is a similar thread already, but I have not found anything. If I was mistaken, please move this post and accept my apologies...).

So... I am currently putting together all the documents for grad school applications (if that is of any help: I am aiming for PhD programs in Political Science/IR in the UK, USA, Germany and France) and I was wondering (about many things, of course...) if I should include the fact that I am a mom (of a six year old child).

I am worried that the admissions committee might think that I do not have enough time resources to pursue a PhD. This is of course a legitimate concern (if you don't know me and how persevering I can be), because it will definetely be harder for me than for others. On the other hand, this could also be seen as my specific strength, as I managed to juggle my studies, a part-time job AND caring for my child. In addition to that, I even did really well: I finished my bachelor's (Bachelor of Arts in International Development, 3 years) within the standard period of study (which is not very common statistically speaking) and with a 4.0 GPA according to WES. I am currently enrolled in a Political Science MA Program (2,5 years) that I hope to have completed by February 2017, with a cumulative GPA of 3.92 (MA thesis not included, because I have not submitted yet). There is an annual merit award from my university that I have received three times and I will most likely be awarded for the past year, too.

Obviously, there are some parents out there that have managed to get into grad school - how did you handle this "issue"?

Do you maybe even have some suggestions how (not) to put this into the CV/Resume/SOP?


Edited by bommel
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Here's my opinion. I am not a parent though. But I work with other students on my campus to advocate for better resources for students who are parents.

The CV and Resume is not the right place for this information. While we're on this topic, I know that CVs and Resumes in North America are quite different from European ones. From talking to friends, it sounds like European CVs often include a lot of personal information, like a photograph, martial status, age, etc. In your CVs to North American schools, you should not include any of this personal information, definitely not family status information.

A SOP is generally more academic and research focussed so I wouldn't generally put information about your child there either. If the school cares about aspects of you that are not-academic, then they will ask for a separate "personal history" or "diversity statement". I think this is the best place to discuss the challenges you experienced as a mother and a student. I would only advise putting a sentence or two about your child in your SOP only if it's directly related to your work or your ability to do some work and you feel like you need to explain it. Otherwise I would not mention it at the application stage.

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I'm a parent, and the majority of my undergraduate education was as a parent. Additionally, I was the primary income-earner during the years (spouse stayed home to take care of my daughter). So stated, I've thought about this a bit, and while I'm not sure I can comment definitively as to what you should do, I can comment regarding what I did.

I mentioned it in my SoP, but only barely. I very, very briefly mentioned that I was a non-traditional student, and that's it. I decided that I absolutely should hint towards my non-traditionalness, for lack of a better word, because I didn't want to be in a program that was actively hostile against the fact that as a parent, it's likely that my daughter's presence would affect my work at some point, even if only very minorly. 

Did mentioning it hurt my chances getting into some programs? Probably, but I'd rather be happy and a good parent. I didn't want to be in a program that forced me to decide between school and my daughter. Personally, I wouldn't want to be a program that tacitly implied that my daughter was a burden; my daughter is far more important than any graduate degree.

Also, like @TakeruK mentioned, I would not list it in a CV/Resume.


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Thanks for your input!

I found some info on the websites on some of the schools that I want to apply to that they have special programs (e.g. child card stipends or special advisors on how to combine parenthood and grad school) for students who are also parents. I am assuming that these are indicators that the institutions and programs are not deliberately hostile environments for such people (like me). I thought about it for a while and I think that I will most likely not mentioned my child in the SOP. So far, I did only come across one programm that wants a personal history statement - in this case I would definitely mention my 'non-traditionalness'.

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