New Release: Single Parents in the Community College

by Heather McCambly / May 22, 2015

OCCRL is pleased to announce the release of Volume 11 of its Insights on Equity and Outcomes series. "A Portrait of Single Student Parents: Financial and Academic Barriers to a Postsecondary Degree," funded by the Illinois Community College Board and written by Carmen Gioiosa and Heather McCambly, provides an overview of research into single student parents’ presence and experiences on community college campuses, along with key recommendations for supporting their success.

Obtaining a postsecondary credential can provide economic security and social mobility for single parent families while unleashing a potential wealth of human capital to meet the nation’s workforce needs (White House, 2011). Raising children while working and pursuing a postsecondary degree presents challenges for any family; however, single student parents often encounter additional obstacles as they strive to complete their degrees in a timely manner. Single student parents find themselves having to fit into the mold of a traditional college student, typically a student without dependents, because financial, academic, and social supports are designed for traditional students (Cerven, 2013; Graham & Bassett, 2011; Santiago, 2013). If higher education institutions better understood the challenges faced by single student parents, they could develop policies and programs to help this population achieve more equitable outcomes in terms of persistence and completion (Fenster, 2004; Goldrick-Rab, 2009; Mason, 2002; Yakaboski, 2010).

Heather McCambly is the Project Coordinator for the Pathways to Results Initiative at the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL). Prior to moving to Illinois, Heather was a Program Associate in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success at the Association of American Colleges and Universities.