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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — Heading back to school is getting more difficult for non-traditional students – particularly women.

A recent report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows women attending community colleges in Mississippi are having trouble graduating on time.

Child care and financial issues are to blame for the struggles Mississippi women face trying to head back to school.

“Child care is very expensive, and we do not have the space or the funds to do that right now ourselves,” said Linda Gates, East Mississippi Community College. “We’ve been looking at transportation issues. Nothing has really gelled yet.”

Workers at the Greater Columbus Learning Center say a majority of the students who attend their GED classes are women.

“A lot of them want to do it because they want to be more productive for their family, and I notice that a lot of them are single parents too,” said Darren Jordan, Greater Columbus Learning Center.

GED student Kayla Woodard says the hardest part about going back to school is getting motivated.

“Just go back and get your education,” Woodard said. “Do not give up on how hard the situation might be. Just keep on pressing until you finally finish the race.”

Jordan says their classes aren’t as full during the summer, because the women are having to take care of their kids while they’re out of school.

The key to making it work is to have a plan.

“Is there a church, family members, neighbors that can help you with those child care issues?” Gates said. “An agency that can help you with them? How’s your transportation? Can you carpool?”

Jordan says one way to help more women graduate on time, is to bring in more career counselors to these college campuses.

“A lot of people are coming from broken homes that they don’t have that support staff. And I know, just for instance here, when they come here, they’re looking for somebody to talk to to try to lead them and guide them,” he said.

Gates also advises women wanting to go back to school to look at some of the more “non-traditional” careers they’ll still enjoy, but will make more money.

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