Unplanned pregnancy vs. college completion

Hours after his daughter was born, 18-year-old Juan Betancur attended college orientation, but he couldn’t handle working six days a week, helping care for a baby and going to college. Like many young parents, he dropped out. Now 28, he’s attending Georgia Perimeter College and starring in Nine Months, a video on teen pregnancy made by students in Tamra Ortgies-Young’s Introduction to Public Administration class.

Sixty-one percent of women who give birth while attending community college drop out and do not return to school. Betancur understands why, he tells Community College Times.

“It’s extremely difficult. I don’t sleep much,” said Betancur, who is taking eight credit hours this fall, working full time and serving as the custodial parent of his now 10-year-old daughter. He plans to complete his associate degree in December and then transfer to Georgia State University.

“I’m just more motivated than ever and more determined to succeed and get my degree and to get myself and my daughter a better life, so I just push through,” Betancur added.

In addition to making three videos, Ortgies-Young’s students also wrote research papers on unplanned pregnancy, participated in attitude and behavior surveys, and wrote online journals on the financial and personal costs of unplanned pregnancies.

GPC is one of five community colleges participating in Make It Personal: College Completion, a project of the American Association of Community Colleges and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Half of all pregnancies in the U.S.—about 3 million a year—are unplanned, according to the campaign. Community college students who already are parents will be more likely to graduate if they postpone another pregnancy.