Assessing the Needs and Barriers to Success for Single Mother College Students

This study assesses the needs and barriers to success for single mother college students. Previous literature talks about how socially constructed gender roles and expectations play a role in single mother’s lives. Mother’s taking on the majority of child rearing and other domestic responsibilities is a gender norm that has long been held by society. In addition, the literature outlines that single mother students face substantial role conflict barriers, monetary barriers, and support barriers. Lastly it is important to acknowledge the importance of a higher education to one’s future and life success. I conducted qualitative research using one on one interviews with 10 single mother students from three different colleges. Each interview is aimed at learning and understanding what each women experiences being a single mother student. Additionally talking with each woman, I find out what needs and barriers they have and which ones they find themselves struggling with the most. The themes that occurred the most throughout my interviews were that no single mother college student had enough time, they were not able to afford it alone, and childcare is a big part of the struggle. Interestingly all 10 mothers mentioned all of these themes in their interviews. However, it is important to acknowledge that while they shared these needs and struggles in common, they each experienced them in their own unique and intricate ways. Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital is used to inform by findings. What becomes clear is that varying levels of cultural capital has a direct influence on each of the single mother student’s stories. Cultural capital has a lot to do with how each of these women navigate their lives and the struggles they encounter as single mother students. Furthermore, succeeding in earning a college degree is a type of cultural capital that is held highly by society and can be positively influential to them and their children’s lives.