Data Notes: May/June 2012

Student Parents and Academic Outcomes

Close to one-third (32 percent) of all community college students and half (51 percent) of Achieving the Dream FAFSA-filers have dependents. Students with children face unique challenges—such as childcare, employment, student loans, and housing issues—that make persisting and completing their postsecondary goals more difficult. This issue of Data Notes contextualizes this student population and opens the discussion for how institutions can better serve students with children. The data show that female students were more likely to be single parents than male students, and that female single parents persisted at slightly higher rates than male single parents. Female single parents outperformed male single parents in completing all developmental and gateway English, while gateway math completion rates for male single parents was slightly higher than that of female single parents. Completion, transfer, and re-enrollment rates during the third year indicate that, overall, single parents had slightly lower credential completions and higher third year stop-out rates compared to their married counterparts and students without dependents. Given that single parents represent a substantial proportion of students on ATD college campuses, it is important that colleges consider this student subgroup as they develop their academic success initiatives, programs, and policies.

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