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The Davidson Family: All in at BSC

Davidson FamilyAt the Davidson home in Bismarck, dinner is on your own these days.  It was the first thing to go when all six members of this close-knit family enrolled at Bismarck State College.

“I do miss dinner time,” says daughter Meagan, age 20.

While the “Davidson dorm” may not have a meal plan per se, it has plenty of benefits. The parents take care of the groceries, mom Bridget takes the lead on family laundry most weekends, everyone has their own room, and, with the whole family balancing school and work, camaraderie abounds.

Meagan, Lexus and Amanda are triplets; Petra is the youngest daughter. All of the girls have part time jobs. Bridget and dad Micah both work full time. Bridget is at Legacy High School in Bismarck; Micah works in technology for the Bismarck Public Schools. All six are full-time BSC students.

While the Davidsons didn’t get any BOGO deals at BSC, living at home keeps their costs down, as does the number of family members enrolled. Household income is the biggest factor in determining the financial aid options for a student, but the number of people in the house and the number of people attending college weigh in when it comes to financial aid.

“The more family members in college, the greater grant assistance available – that includes North Dakota grants as well as Pell Grants,” BSC Financial Aid Director Scott Lingen says.

No one in the family has a student loan. The girls have earned a number of scholarships from the BSC Foundation and elsewhere. All the Davidsons qualify for Pell or other grants. Bridget says her salary is designated to college costs, and Micah’s to living expenses, so “no big vacation plans are on the horizon for probably a couple more years.”

The girls agree that paying their own way is both worth it, and a path that ensures they value their education.

“I think it’s better that I’m paying for my own college. I take it more seriously and try harder to get good grades,” says Lexus. “I feel like you do better if paying for yourself,” says Amanda.

College was not on the radar when Bridget graduated from Shiloh in 1995. “At the time of my high school graduation, college wasn’t a big deal even though I knew my older brother had gone for a little bit. No one suggested or encouraged me to go,” she says.

Instead, she went to work, then married, and within a couple years was a mother of four little girls. Micah attended college for a year before joining the Air Force, but becoming a father of four in a short timeframe meant earning a living trumped attending college.

When the older three enrolled, Bridget says “I just thought ‘can I go to college?’ It was a new idea for me.” Micah, who had begun taking online cybersecurity classes the spring prior, encouraged her. “I’d tried college when they were young and that did not work. This does,” he says.

The family’s various studies are a cross section of BSC’s many program offerings – Micah takes online classes in web development and cybersecurity; Bridget is working toward her associate degree, then plans to go on for a business degree through Dickinson State University on the BSC campus; Petra is in BSC’s mass communications program; Lexus is studying early childhood education and will transfer to Mayville State in January; Meagan is in BSC’s graphic design program; and Amanda is studying business at BSC and plans to open a bed and breakfast someday.

The family agrees that Bridget is the most stressed-out student in the house. “She makes me nervous!” says Amanda who has an Algebra class with her mom. Their teacher, Michael Kern, associate professor of Mathematics, says the mother and daughter are good, conscientious students who always get their work done. “You don’t see a mother and daughter in a classroom very often. It’s cool to see how well they get along.”

The family’s busy and varied schedules mean our campus interview is one of the rare times all six are in one place at one time. They laugh a lot. They discuss their school and work schedules. They make plans. Micah says their driveway looks like a used car lot when everyone is home. One car is in the shop today so Petra and Meagan swap keys. Finally, this family of students goes their separate ways knowing they’ll see each other later, at home.

VIDEO EXTRA: Meet the Davidsons