Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

W. Hal Knight, Russell F. West, Henry J. Antikiewicz, Terrence A. Tollefson


The purpose of this study was to determine the motivations and characteristics of returning female students ages 23-50 and to investigate the implications for the community college. Participants in the study were 30 female students ages 23-50, selected from required classes in math and English in a community college in Northeast Tennessee. The participants volunteered to participate in this study. Responses were grouped in three major categories: motivation, characteristics, and implications for the community college. The responses were then analyzed and compared with the information from the literature review.

Findings suggested that job-related reasons motivated students to return to college, and these reasons were those that were most acceptable to family and peers. Self-improvement, however, was also a strong motivation. Job satisfaction seemed more important than high salaries. Many single parents wanted more for their children and further education was the only way they could get a better-paying job. These students were highly motivated, determined to reach their goals. Almost all of them had experienced some academic successes in their past, but most of them had families who were indifferent to higher education, and often, in the same family, attitudes toward the student’s attempt to obtain more education were ambivalent.

Students did not express many problems in the areas of scheduling, transportation, or child care, even though the community college could be classified as a "commuter college." Their attitudes were positive toward the school, and toward their educational experiences. Most of them were enrolled in a business or medical curriculum. Students viewed general education courses positively. They saw such courses as expanding their outlook on life and opening up new worlds for them. All of the students said they would recommend returning to school to other women in their age group.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.