Publication Date

Spring 4-1-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Gizelle Luevano

Second Advisor

Darren Akerman

Third Advisor

Nena Cunningham


This qualitative phenomenological study examined the results of semi-structured interviews conducted with six parenting adult learners (ParentALs) enrolled in three public two-year community colleges in the United States. This study investigated the problem of a lack of understanding of the experiences of ParentALs enrolled in community colleges. The purpose of this study was to examine how the lived experiences of ParentALs enrolled in community colleges may influence their persistence. Three themes emerged from the literature review and data analysis: the identity of the ParentAL, characteristics and intersectionality of factors, experiences, and perceptions that may influence ParentAL persistence in community college, and practices that support ParentAL persistence. This study affirmed that entry characteristics, student motivations, the external environment, internal campus and academic factors, and student sense of belonging influence ParentALs college experience as supported by the theory of adult learner persistence (Bergman et al., 2014; & Bergman and Olson, 2020) and the Terenzini and Reason framework (Reason, 2009). This study asserted that community college leaders must recognize that ParentALs experience college differently than traditional students. ParentALs lived college experiences are connected to their work, family, and life responsibilities. Recommendations include: increasing data and understanding, reducing barriers, evaluating institutional culture and recruitment, attendance, grading, and other practices that may place ParentALs at a disadvantage, and professional development which informs practice. This study confirmed a need to further study the experiences of ParentALs enrolled in four-year universities and graduate programs as well as the experiences and interactions shared between parenting faculty and ParentALs.

Keywords: community college, student parent, parenting adult learner, persistence, 2Gen


Ed.D. Dissertation



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