Older Reentry Community College Women: Their Start, Delay, Choice, and Experiences

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Title: Older Reentry Community College Women: Their Start, Delay, Choice, and Experiences
Author: Hardison, Marianna Dail
Advisors: Barbara Baines, Committee Member
J. Conrad Glass, Committee Chair
Robert Serow, Committee Member
John Pettitt, Committee Member
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine older reentry women between ages 35 and 50 who started their college careers at a small, rural satellite campus of Caronor Community College. The researcher's goal was to examine this age group attending full-time in this setting and what they experienced as college students in order to fill a gap in the literature, a hole which has focused on reentry women of all ages, primarily at universities and small colleges. The researcher performed this study at these women's homes, jobs, or this campus. She selected all former and current older women students whom she could reach who started college for the first time here and met the age and full-time criteria. She questioned them in lengthy semi-structured interviews, allowing them to talk freely about their private and college lives. The interviewer sought to learn was why they began college when they did, why they delayed before starting, why they chose this campus, and what their experiences were as college students. The major themes which emerged from this research were that job needs, either absent abusive or present supportive husbands, and a suggestion about beginning college from someone significant to them caused these women to begin college. They delayed starting for many years because of lives filled with large responsibilities since high school. The proximity of this campus to their homes and work, its small size, its low tuition, and its nonthreatening atmosphere were reasons they selected it. For these older reentry women students, the college experience provided them with skills they needed for more professional jobs, knowledge they treasured, faculty and peers they enjoyed, increased self-confidence and sense of personal worth, a sense of joie de vivre, and for several, the desire to earn higher degrees. This study suggested the need for numerous small satellite campuses of community colleges which would provide easy access to rural populations, the benefit of full-time, supportive faculty and staff, and the criticality of continuous programs available both day and night. It also paved the way for more research on older and younger community college women at similar campuses and at larger main campuses.
Date: 2004-04-07
Degree: EdD
Discipline: Adult and Community College Education
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/5043

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