Term of Award

Fall 2016

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Social Sciences (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair

April Schueths

Committee Member 1

Ted Brimeyer

Committee Member 2

Adrienne Cohen


The purpose of my study was to understand student mothers that attended college in the rural southeast by using an ecological framework to examine the barriers and challenges that they encounter on college campuses. Additionally, the study identified support and the lack of support that the mothers received. The theoretical concepts of intensive mothering, role strain, and role conflict were also used to comprehend how parental obligations can conflict with the expectations of being a college student. In total, 14 participants that attended a mid-size university in the rural southeast agreed to be a part of the study. The criteria to participate was that a college student had to be at least 18 years of age, currently enrolled or last enrolled at a university or college within the last five years, parent to at least one child that is 18 years or younger. They all identified as mothers from various demographic backgrounds. A qualitative study was then conducted using a thematic analysis to compare the narrative experiences of the participants. The four primary themes that emerged from the data analysis included accommodations, campus restrictions, events and activities, and feeling uncomfortable. In summary, the results of the study may be used to develop programs and services to assist the needs of mothers that attend colleges and universities in rural communities. However, the study does have limitations such as no males agreed to participate and the sample size of the participants is too small to make the results generalizable.

Research Data and Supplementary Material