Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award

May 1994


The purpose of this study was to investigate, through in-depth interviews, those factors which served to motivate early marriage women in the attainment of associate degrees and to identify characteristics of early marriage women who were successful in completing associate degrees. The details obtained from these interviews were interpreted and their meanings used to generate propositions and implications about the completion of associate degrees by this group of students. In-depth interviews were conducted with 28 early marriage women (informants) who either completed associate degrees or were within 12 semester hours of completing an associate degree. In addition, 15 in-depth interviews were conducted with spouses, parents, and close friends of informants (respondents). A marriage occurring at age 21 years or earlier was considered an early marriage. The young women who were interviewed in this study identified seven prevailing reasons for marrying early. There were three periods when the informants in this study acknowledged having formed conscientious attachments to the goal of attending college. These periods were in grade school, late high school, and immediate post-high school. The women in this study who married early chose to attend and complete associate degrees at community colleges. They identified six principal reasons for electing to continue their educations at public two-year colleges. The informants also identified nine areas of adversity that needed to be either overcome or managed. The academic success experienced by the informants in this study were attributed to a combination of factors in three principle areas. These three areas included personal characteristics, support provided by families, and support provided by non-family associations. There were found to be six levels of family support. These levels of support included providing financial assistance, performing household duties, helping with course work, providing encouragement and emotional support, caring for children, and celebrating success. To a large extent, strict adherence to traditional roles at home did not exist for these women and their husbands. Many husbands readily recognized the need to take a proactive stance regarding the completion of household duties and tasks. There also existed a community of close friends, outlying friends, and associations that provided various levels of support to these women.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access