School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy


Gail Collins


Student, Parent, Persistence, Adult Learners, Higher Education, Challenges


Education | Educational Leadership | Higher Education


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand the challenges of student-parents, or those students who are also parents, in higher education and discover the strategies that this student population has found to overcome such challenges. Participants included student-parents who attended residential classes, online, and/or in hybrid formats at a public institution. Tinto’s (2012) theory of student persistence guided this study with the abundance of trials student-parents encounter through their student career. Knowles’ (1990) theory of adult learning and views on self-directed learning also contributed to this study examining how students learn as adults who take accountability for their own learning experiences, goal setting, and managing their resources. The central research question is how do student-parents describe their challenges, as well as their strategies, while enrolled in higher education? Data was collected through individual interviews, a photo journal of experiences, and a focus group. The data analysis process was completed using the steps outlined by Moustakas (1994). The themes found in this study include roles, time, and support. The findings of this study may be beneficial for institutions seeking to raise students’ graduation rates, professional test scores, and preparedness of future professionals through finding a deeper understanding of this growing student-population.