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A tunnel of hope : the experiences of student-mothers in a community college based developmental studies program McGee Thompson, Donna Jean

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to investigate the experiences of mothers of young children attending a community college-based Developmental Education (DVST) program. A literature review indicated three general notions: 1) mothering in North America today is all-consuming and associated with numerous contradictions and difficulties, 2) student mothers in a variety of post-secondary contexts face difficulties participating, and 3) some DVST students may experience some level of "culture shock" upon entering post-secondary education. Participants were eight women enrolled in the program while assuming the primary live-in parenting responsibility for at least one child under thirteen. Semi-structured interviews and subsequent analysis of interview transcripts revealed six themes. Participation in the DVST program as a student-mother (1) signifies a major life turning point, (2) is a positive experience, (3) involves adapting to new time pressures, (4) involves redefining roles in relationships with children and other family members, which can lead to feelings of guilt, (5) is vulnerable to childcare and financial crises, and (6) is best supported by services related to childcare, financial assistance, and connections with women in like circumstances. The results of this study have implications for daycare policy, career counselling, centralized services for student-mothers receiving income assistance, support networks, and DVST instructors' role in establishing linkages between student-mothers and the college community.

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