THE FEMALE MID-LIFE STUDENT: A CASE STUDY OF THREE MID-LIFE WOMEN AT THE LUZERNE COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE (PENNSYLVANIA)
The purpose of this research is to conduct a field study of three mid-life female students entering post-secondary education at the community college level. The study is to note the various interactions, feelings, and attitude changes experienced by these re-entry women at the Luzern County Community College in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania.
The methodology used for the study was that of participant-observer. Data were collected during the two terms of the 1984-1985 academic year, with follow-up interviews conducted during the summer of 1985. Data sources included recorded classroom observations, social interaction observations, interviews with study participants, college faculty, administrators, staff, and children and spouses of the study participants.
The study (1) Observes the mid-life student in the classroom setting of the Luzerne County Community College. (2) Notes the interaction between the mid-life female student and the faculty, peers, and traditional-aged college students. (3) Examines and discusses the stresses of familial, financial, and emotional responsibilities imposed upon the mid-life female student when returning to school. (4) Examines the importance of support from children, spouses, and/or significant others in continuing their education. (5) Discusses the need for adult support groups on college campuses.
A review of the observations and interviews substantiates the following conclusions. (1) Mid-life female students returning to post-secondary education encounter additional stresses of familial, financial, and personal matters usually not experienced by the traditional-aged college student. (2) Mid-life students approached their educational experience with a serious, critical, and determined attitude. (3) After the first few classes, there seemed to be no age difference existing in the classroom between the mid-life student and the traditional-aged student. (4) The support and cooperation received from family, spouse, or significant others was important to the mid-life student's desire to continue with her education. (5) The mid-life female student's family and/or significant others must recognize and try to cooperate with the additional responsibilities imposed upon the re-entry student. (6) Adult support groups can be instrumental in easing the transition from parent to full-time student, and in reducing stress and feelings of isolation many mid-life students experience during their first term on a college campus. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)
0516: Continuing education
0275: Community colleges
0453: Womens studies