Family Life

Believe it or not, doing math is not the only thing going on in the lives of our grad students. Some of our math grads have children and have given their thoughts about the experience of raising a family while furthering their education.

Graduate student John Foley welcoming the latest addition to his family

If you’re considering coming to UCSD with your family, you’ll want to know what benefits your loved ones are entitled to. For an up-to-date description of these benefits, it is best to check with UAW Local 2865, the union representing over 12,000 academic student employees (readers, tutors, TAs, and others) at the 9 teaching campuses of the University of California.

Currently, registered students with at least a 25% appointment are entitled to a reimbursement of $300 per quarter for childcare expenses. All female graduate students are also entitled to 4 weeks of paid maternity leave and can apply to the Office of Graduate Studies for an extra 2 weeks, for a total of 6 weeks of paid leave. The extra two weeks from OGS are generally given if the birth is in the middle of the quarter. For new mothers, UCSD provides quiet and private lactation rooms in various buildings on campus, with pumps provided.

As for health insurance, you may have your UCSD health plan extend to your spouse/domestic partner and children; unfortunately, there is an enormous fee for this that grad students have found very pricey. More information about UCSD Healthcare can be found here. Some students have opted for a third party non-UCSD insurance plan, which may run just over $300 a month to cover your spouse and child.

Grad students with children have a very good chance of getting into Mesa Graduate Housing, one of the cheapest on-campus housing options. Math grads with families who live there like it for its close proximity to school and the two parks it has on the premises. Another housing alternative is to live close to Balboa Park, which is farther from campus but has more family-friendly activities.

Fortunately, San Diego’s most famous tourist attractions are very kid-friendly and you should have no trouble finding fun activities for your little tots. Many ideas can be found here.

Graduate student Mary Radcliffe and her family

A year-long pass to the San Diego Zoo, one of the largest zoos in the world, is highly recommended. This costs about the same as two visits to the zoo and is also valid at the Wild Animal Park. If your children are very young, you may want steer away from the Sea World pass since you will have to leave your stroller outside almost everything worth seeing there.

Another fun place is Kid Ventures. It is an indoor playground about 10 minutes from campus where for $12/day or $30/month, your kid can play on pirate ships, fire trucks and castles. They recommend it for kids under eight, but I for one wouldn’t mind borrowing a kid so I could get in.

If you are looking to teach your kid how to swim, students have recommended Aqua Pros. They teach children of all ages and also have an autism program. Another option is lessons with the YMCA, which has many locations in San Diego County.

While there are a handful of math grad students that have families, you may be interested in reaching out to the greater UCSD community for more support and camaraderie. There is a Grad Parents Network on campus that holds family friendly events throughout the year. It is a great opportunity to meet and network with other grad parents at UCSD and find out about fun activities for your kids to take part in. You can sign up for their listserv to get more info about the group and stay current with their events.

Here are a few resources suggested by the Grad Parents Network, which should be helpful.

  • General information for UCSD students who are parents (contains links to some childcare options)
  • UCSD Babysitting Resource
  • Child Care Reimbursement information

At this point, you may be wondering how difficult it is to juggle a family while progressing in your research. Here is what a few of our students have to say about that:

“You have to be more careful with the way you spend your time. In my case I have to divide my time between school, my wife, and my baby, so I don’t have much free time. Besides, I have to make sure I don’t leave things to the last minute, because I am never sure that I can spend that last minute working only on my own stuff.”

“It depends on priorities and motivation. It is possible to put in almost as much effort into grad school as any ‘normal’ graduate student, but then something else usually has to give – hobbies, free time, etc. Personally, my progress is probably a little slower due to having a family, but not unreasonably so.”

“Balance your family and work commitments with realistic end goals in mind (for your family life and for your career). Never let your family life get into autopilot mode; meaning you are just physically there, but mentally somewhere else.”

We hope all these resources are useful and wish you the best of luck with your family!