Date of Award

Fall 12-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Foundations & Leadership

Program/Concentration

Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Laura Smithers

Committee Member

Peter Anderson

Abstract

Twenty-two percent of United States undergraduate students are parents (Cruse, et al., 2020). Referred to as student-parents, they are most likely to have low-incomes and attend community colleges (Cruse, et al., 2019; Gault et al., 2014). They tend to reduce their course loads and drop out of college due to work-life balance challenges even though they typically have better grade point averages than their non-parent peers (Cruse et al., 2019; Manze, et al., 2021; Peterson, 2016).

The problem to be addressed was how community college instructors, leaders, and legislators can support low-income student-parents’ persistence toward a postsecondary credential. There is a gap in the research about how the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic is impacting this large student population. Before the Pandemic, low-income student-parents already had financial insecurities with food, housing, and childcare (Baker-Smith et al., 2020). Now there are many more obstacles with school closures, lay-offs, and lack of childcare (Cruse et al., 2020).

This qualitative, phenomenological study focuses on the phenomenon of student-parents’ experiences at a community college during Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. Using reflective lifeworld research guided by van Manen’s (2016) hermeneutic phenomenology thematic analysis (Vagle, 2018), I discovered four themes: (a) Student-Parents Postsecondary Credential Completion Often Interrupted, (b) Student-Parents Need Mental Health Support, and (c) Student-Parents Need More Financial Support and Education, and (d) Instructor Interaction, Support Services, and Course Delivery Methods are Essential to Student-Parents’ Postsecondary Persistence. Recommendations include how community college leaders can help increase persistence through a family friendly campus, childcare options, mental health support, flexible class schedules, and additional support services. Suggestions for legislators include reducing barriers to obtain and maintain social services funding assistance.

DOI

10.25777/m56t-8c92

ISBN

9798762197427

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