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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Lived Experience of Community College Student-Parents

  • Author(s): Coronel, Brenda
  • et al.

The number of student-parents in higher education is increasing substantially, yet their graduation rates continue to decline. I focus on the barriers and privileges that student-parents with different socioeconomic backgrounds experience through the theoretical framework of intersectionality. I examine the lived experiences of Rio Hondo and Santa Monica community college student-parents using detailed interviews that asked open-ended questions about their educational experiences. Their counterstories exposed their perceptions of both institutional barriers and privileges. This study illuminates how local forms of racial disparities have been the underlying reasons why student-parents in Los Angeles lack institutional resources. Such disadvantages, especially the lack of awareness about resources, hinders them in postsecondary pathways. Still, student-parents share motives to push through structural barriers and remain resilient during their educational trajectory. Policymakers, college administrators, and faculty could practice equity and inclusion for student-parents by offering services that specifically address their needs as parents and those that arise from racial inequality. I suggest this could be implemented by providing more available times for students to access tutoring, counseling, and childcare services.

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