The Challenges Of Being a University Student and a Mom Essay

The Challenges Of Being a University Student and a Mom Essay

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Within the growing number of women in higher education, there is a growing population of students who are also mothers. Mothers attempting to obtain a degree contend with home and family demands that affect their degree completion rates (Carney-Crompton & Tan, 2002; Home, 1998). These postsecondary education students, unlike their traditional peers, are not developing into adult identities that are supported by a traditional college setting (Arnett, Ramos & Jensen, 2001; Arnett, 2000) but instead already have an adult identity as a mother (Wilsey, 2013) with a different set of needs and because of the familial responsibility motherhood brings with it these women are no longer “traditional” students (Cross, 1981; Bean & Metzer, 1985, 1987; Hazzard, 1993; Nora, Kraemer, & Itzen, 1997; Sundberg, 1997). Further, existing research on postsecondary education indicates that, for many nontraditional students, financial, social, and emotional complexities that accompany maintaining the roles of parent and student simultaneously can impair their abilities to obtain a degree and could lead to “stopping out” or “dropping out” of their postsecondary education (Bonham & Luckie, 1993; Des Jardins et al., 1999; Hoffer & Welch, 2006; Kerber, 2005; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991).

Moreover, precisely because these students also experience tension that exists between the roles of student and mother, as students are expected to treat their education as their primary focus in life (Levine, 1993) and mothers are expected to treat their motherhood as their primary focus in life (Johnston & Swanson, 2004; Douglas & Michaels, 2004; O’Reilly, 2004; Arendell, 2000; Garey, 1999; Hays, 1996) their experiences are marginalized. It is within this marginalizat...


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... Manvel, & J. Bornstein, S. (2006). Opt Out” or Pushed Out? How the Press Covers
Work/Family Conflict: The Untold Story of Why Women are Leaving the Workforce. San Francisco: Center for Work, Life, Law.
Wilsey, S. A. (2013). Comparisons of Adult and Traditional College-Age Student
Mothers: Reasons for College Enrollment and Views of How Enrollment Affects
Children. Journal of College Student Development 54(2).
Wolf-Wendel, L. E., & Ward, K. (2006). Academic life and motherhood: Variations by
institutional type. Higher Education, 52, 487–521.
Wolf-Wendel, L., Ward, K., & Twombly, S. (2007). Faculty life at community colleges:
The perspective of women with children. Community College Review, 34(4), 255–281
Yakaboski, T. (2010). Going at it Alone: Single-Mother Undergraduates’ Experiences.
Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice 47(4): 463-481.


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