In 1999, a teenager named Nicole arrived at college ready to study literature and make her mark in creative writing.

But she discovered that her campus was not ready for what she brought with her: a baby daughter.

Despite child care and financial setbacks—and some unsympathetic professors—Nicole persevered and graduated. Now, she runs a nonprofit that supports teen parents pursuing higher education. And she just published a memoir, called “Pregnant Girl,” about her own experience trying to earn her degree.

For this week’s EdSurge Podcast, we spoke with author Nicole Lynn Lewis about what teen parents need to thrive at college.

Today, one in five college students is a parent, according to research from Generation Hope, the organization that Lewis founded. Yet few higher ed institutions track parenting status or have programs designed to serve students who have children. Campuses that aren’t welcoming can further burden young parents and their families.

If institutional hurdles mean students who have kids can’t succeed in college, that deprives those students not only of the economic benefits of a degree, Lewis argues, but also the emotional and intellectual benefits of education.

As Lewis writes in her book, in contrast to her chaotic last year of high school, “college was affording me the space to listen, to find my voice, and to question the status quo.”

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play Music, or wherever you listen to podcasts, or use the player on this page.