Ignorance is not bliss: single mothers describe navigating postsecondary institutions





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This study used semi-structured interviews to explore the research question, How do single mothers describe their postsecondary educational experience? The project focused on the experiences of six women currently (a) attempting to complete, or (b) having successfully completed a postsecondary degree while raising children as single mothers. In one-on-one semi-structured interviews employing a partnership model for questioning subjects, women were asked to describe the scholastic journey. The six research participants were European American (3), African American (2) and Mexican American (1). The youngest participant was 33 and the oldest was 42. The postsecondary institutions included (a) 2-year registered nursing program (1), (b) certified electrician's program (1), (c) undergraduate degree at a private college (1), and (d) undergraduate degree at a public institution (3). Excerpts from the transcribed interviews were framed by expectant themes in the data to provide a narrative structure. Emergent themes included the role of fathers, persistence duality, and the difficult process of priority selection in the postsecondary degree pursuit of these single mothers. Data analysis also revealed institutional support and institutional impediments encountered during an attempt at a postsecondary degree while single parenting.

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