Raising a family in a college town

Jennifer Salmans, a Manhattan mother with three daughters, encourages five year old daughter Stella during a halftime game of soccer at Frank Anneberg Park on Sept. 22, 2015. (Vail Moshiri | The Collegian)

In a town filled with college students, it may often be forgotten that Manhattan is not just a town of college kids having fun while earning their degrees, but also a city with families and children that attend the local elementary, middle and high schools.

Jennifer Salmans, a Manhattan mom with three girls age 12 and younger, said she loves living near K-State with her family.

“I think Manhattan is an extremely vibrant town,” Salmans said. “I think it’s a safe place for kids and the educational opportunities for the kids. I mean I think there could always be more things for the kids to do, but having children you can be as busy as you want to.”

According to a College Ranker article titled “The 50 Best College Towns to Live in Forever,” Manhattan is ranked No. 26, and K-State has everything from family-friendly restaurants and a “wealth of student life activities.”

“We do a lot of K-state stuff,” Tracey Gros, Manhattan mother of three children ages 14-21 said. “We do football games and basketball games and that kind of thing as far as what we do as a family, other than going to the movie theater or bike rides.”

Living in a town with almost 25,000 college students could be frightening for some, especially trying to raise a family with little kids; however, Michelle Robben, mother of three, said she found it to be an advantage.

“At the time that we were raising our kids, when they were younger, we had no family (living in Manhattan), so we relied a lot on college students for babysitting, and I thought that was just a huge benefit,” Robben said.

Gros said they feel safe with their kids living in Manhattan, even with their older teenage kids near the party scene.

“It stays pretty divided,” Gros said. “I mean, we’ve been here for a long time, and even having kids that we know that have attended K-State, I feel like it stays pretty separate as far as interaction; you don’t have to worry about the kids getting hold of anything. And going to bars or parties … there isn’t a pressure (to attend).”

Because these families live so close to K-State, some people may think there is an added pressure on their children to attend the university, but according to Salmans, her family is open about the idea of her kids attending the college of their choice.

“I want them to go to the university that is best for them,” Salmans said. “I would love for them to be close to home, but I don’t want them to feel like they need to go there … but I would be proud if they did attend K-State”

Robben said that more university associations should in fact be more active with the younger students at the high school level and that while many Greek houses take part in that initiative, it would be beneficial if other clubs got involved as well.

“I think it would be nice if different student organizations would take upon that role as well, whether it be trick or treating, or a mentoring, I think that would be really positive to high schoolers right now,” Robben said.

When asked whether she would like to live in a different town, Salmans made the answer clear.

“No, I couldn’t think of a better place to raise my kids,” Salmans said. “It’s so nice to have the safety of a small community.”