Date of Award

5-2009

Level of Access

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Higher Education Leadership

Advisor

Elizabeth Allan

Second Committee Member

Pamela Eddy

Third Committee Member

Suzanne Estler

Additional Committee Members

Susan K. Gardner

Sidney Mitchell

Abstract

This study presents the experiences of success of 11 women who have completed an associate degree while parenting children. Women parenting children are a population at especially high risk of non-completion. In much of the research, however, women parenting children are only mentioned peripherally as a subpopulation of nontraditional students; their experiences have not been studied in-depth. This qualitative study, utilizing both individual and focus group interviews, adds to the literature on women students in U.S. community colleges while parenting children. Lessons learned from the participants include the following: (a) academic success, particularly during the first year of study, motivated persistence; (b) involvement in co-curricular activities enhanced the experience of success; (c) a lifelong desire to attend college was a motivating factor in completion of the associate degree; (d) previous unsuccessful college experiences served as a motivational tool for success; (e) successful graduates received significant support from family, friends, instructors, advisors, college staff, and classmates; (f) successful graduates credit their success to building strong relationships with college personnel; (g) participation in study groups was vital to the experience of success; and (h) the community college model, and the support systems in place, led to experiences of success. Experiences in overcoming self-doubt, and challenges relating to childcare, financing education, and time management are also explored. Implications and recommendations for research and practice are discussed.

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