A Phenomenological Inquiry into the Perceptions of Single Mother College Students

Jamaica DelMar


As parenting students are an underserved subset of the growing nontraditional college student population in the United States, this study aims to understand and illuminate the experiences of single mother students while in pursuit of a post-secondary credential. This research is motivated by the following research questions, viewed within the context of a participant's identities: How do single mother college students perceive institutional support services? How do single mother college students experience their interactions with faculty? What institutional systems are in place that pose the biggest barriers to persistence and degree completion for single mother college students? A phenomenological qualitative study using an intersectional theoretical framework was conducted at an urban community college in the Midwest in pursuit of insight into these questions. Thirteen single mother students were recruited to participate in one-on-one interviews via a recruitment statement on a survey and word of mouth. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the qualitative data. Pseudonyms were used to protect the identity of participants in the survey and interviews. The findings of this study provide insight to the perceptions of a largely invisible student population, during a global pandemic, while offering awareness of how larger societal structures influence student experiences. The findings inform institutions on ways to support parenting students in their pursuit of a post-secondary credential.