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What’s Happening at the House? Keeping Nontraditional Students Engaged

Jennifer Methvin Vice Chancellor for Academics University of Arkansas Community College at Hope. What’s Happening at the House? Keeping Nontraditional Students Engaged. 16 OF THE 22 Community Colleges in Arkansas . RurAL. My First Experience with Factory Closure. Epiphany.

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What’s Happening at the House? Keeping Nontraditional Students Engaged

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  1. Jennifer Methvin Vice Chancellor for Academics University of Arkansas Community College at Hope What’s Happening at the House?Keeping Nontraditional Students Engaged

  2. 16 OF THE 22 Community Colleges in Arkansas RurAL

  3. My First Experience with Factory Closure Epiphany

  4. Perceptions of the College Experience Held by Life Partners of Rural, Nontraditionally-Aged, First-Generation Community College Students

  5. What the Literature Says The studies about first-generation and nontraditional students emphasized the impact that home and social groups have on the college experience for the student. However, the studies examined the barriers to degree-completion for this at-risk population from a limited perspective. The majority of researchers studied adult and first-generation student transition to and experience of higher education only from the perspective of the student,educatorsor parents. No studies considered the college-going experience from the perspective of a student’s life partner.

  6. What the Literature Says Of the studies included in this review of literature, only three reference life partners specifically. Eshbaugh (2010) studied “low romantic partner support”among college women and concluded that support from family and friends did not offset the feelings of loneliness for the women in the study (p. 8). This study did not address the role that low romantic partner support played in students’ ability to persist and complete degrees. Sorey and Duggan (2008), who studied retention in adult community college students, found that support from a “significant other” was a strong predictor of retention (p. 92). Castle (2004) found that partner support was the most important factoraffecting adult learner performance, either positively or negatively.

  7. Castles, J. (2004). Persistence and the adult learner: Factors affecting persistence in open university students. Active Learning in Higher Education, 5(2), 166-179. doi: 10.1177/1469787404043813 Eshbaugh, E. (2010). Friend and family support as moderators of the effects of low romantic partner support on loneliness among college women. Individual Differences Research, 8(1), 8-16. Retrieved from Retrieved from http://www.ebscohost.com/academic/education-research- complete Sorey, K., & Duggan, M. (2008). Differential predictors of persistence between community college adult and traditional-aged students. Community College Journal of Research & Practice, 32(2), 75-100. doi:10.1080/10668920701380967

  8. Purpose The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore and describe the perceptions of the college experience held by the life partners of rural, nontraditional, first-generation community college students and to discover and describe, from the life partners’ perspectives, the communication between the life partner and the student that took place about the experience. The study was based on the assumption that the life partner of an adult, rural, first-generation college student at the time of college attendance is a force of influence on the student and is, positively or negatively, a part of the student’s social capital. Therefore, understanding the phenomenon of being in a relationship and cohabiting with a rural, first-generation, adult community college student is desirable as a first step in understanding how rural community colleges can support both the student and the life partner in negotiating the college-going experience.

  9. This is not a presentation based on my research results! Though I will share them with you.

  10. Engage You in the Topic A Part of our Nation’s Completion Agenda We Must Engage Nontraditional Learners

  11. Listen

  12. Participant #1 • Wife • Co-enrolled at First • Describes husband as someone who never valued education Because of the way he acted when he started taking classes, he was really intimidated and kind of shy. He didn't have a lot of self-confidence. When he started classes, I thought it was going to be a lot harder on him than what it is. He has actually , let's just say he has gone above and beyond my expectations that I thought that he would. I didn't know if he would succeed or not. That's the best way I can put it. Not that I think he is stupid. I just think he doubted hisselfmore than I did.

  13. Participant #1 I feel like him attending college has raised my confidence in our family unit. Because, before he attended college, or before he began attending college, I felt like where we were was the best it was going to get. Financially. And now I feel like, even though right now he took a pay cut to be able to go to school, in the future, in the long run, his opportunities are limitless. He actually told me this week that he plans on pursuing his masters which is amazing to me because he was the one who wouldn't even start a two-year college. So, I feel like that is a very, very positive aspect that has come from him beginning college. Also I feel like his confidence has been raised tremendously, which does carry over to myself and my son. My five-year-old son got out of school this week and got in the truck with me and he asked me, he said Mom, does Dad get A's and B's. I said yes, baby, he gets A's and B's. He said, well I'm going to get A's and B's too. He is just in kindergarten. Now that is amazing to me because he thinks that's what you do. You don't get a C. So I feel like him doing this is giving my children a stronger foothold and foundation in their education.

  14. Participant #1 And also something that has helped out is having people on campus that are, that can relate with students. Because a lot of students, and facilitators, or whatever they are called, you know, but not necessarily instructors, but employees at the college, are on two totally different levels. They are not able to relate with a first-generation college student that’s dad worked at an Alcoa plant all his life or a mom that was a bank teller forever. They are not willing, and they don't act like they care to know, where the students are coming from. They don't. That's something to me that is, there's a few people here on campus that have been wonderful because they do care. They really and truly do care. They are not just a number. So, that is something that would help out tremendously at other colleges if they are not in place.

  15. Participant #2 • Wife • Husband laid off from long-time employment • Employee of a community college • Children grown Sometimes I think within the admissions process, we don't involve the family enough, give them enough knowledge to know how life is going to change. A lot of students, and we were fortunate. M’s wasn't one. A lot of students have to work while they're going to school and that balance of responsibilities, how they are going to change things out, I wish we, that colleges could do more on that line. In working with the families and spouses.

  16. Participant #3 • Husband • Highway and Construction Work • Small Children Yeah. We'll see she was over there at Xerox. She would go to college, then come home for a little bit, and then go to work over there four until midnight. And then get off at midnight and come home. Then we could hardly see her. The only time we could see her was when she was walking out the door. She was going to school, and then after school she was going back to work. Okay. And so were there were stressful things about that? Yeah, because I didn't know if I was going to make it home and get the kids off the bus or what. So now it is more better. Because her hours are better and more like the kids hours? Yeah.

  17. Participant #3 No. She just says she wished she could, she wished she could go longer over here at the college, you know, and get a better, get more of a feel of what she's doing. And everything. You know instead of going somewheresoff to go to college, I wish she could finish over here, you know. I know she's going to graduate, you know, but get a better feel of what she's doing, get more training on it.

  18. Participant #4 • Husband • Childhood Sweethearts First semester, it was pretty close to what I imagined it. But she just knuckled down. I mean, we have a mentality. I mean we, I don't want to say just her, we have a mentality that regardless of if it's good or bad or you don't want to or it is stressful or anything like that, our mentality is that if you just finish it. If you do it, do it right. Do the best you can. You know, so, the first semester was pretty trying to me. The stress. It wasn't like, you know . . . our youngest, became depressed because mommy couldn't spend time with him or nothing like that. It was just minor adjustments. But, you know the little things can kill, is what they say.

  19. Participant #4 Mainly it is just the scheduling. The trying to meet in the middle. You know, anymore, we can't plan anything. That is probably been the biggest negative. I mean it seems like every time we plan to do something, that gets hit. Like you said that sounds kind negative but we've been together since were 14 so L is my best friend so I don't go out and hang out without her or anything like that. And vice a versa. You know we’re about to be 37 and I am getting to the point where I say hey, we need to do more stuff. You know but we’re not. So I think that will be the biggest negative.

  20. Participant #4 So remember I'm very conservative. The biggest impact has been financial. I mean, I will be honest. Yeah, you know, you get grants and all that and you will see some people and they will get all these grants and all that stuff and they got a house and they get a new car and all that stuff. My wife, not only is she going to college but she also works. So we've gotten, and I'm not dogging her job by no means, and all that, she is a work-study. And you know you dress for success. So wardrobe. That stuff costs lots of money. Make up. All that stuff. Hairstyling. And there is just nowhere near enough to conceive all of that in any form of grants.

  21. Participant #5 • Live-in Boyfriend • Both have children, some living with them. I can tell you the exact story. I won't bore you with a lot of background, but T is from a mostly rural family and has always been, didn’t graduate from high school. Had a child young. So it was not about going to school. She did, though, want to go to massage therapy school. So when we met, I put her through massage therapy school. She has been in massage therapy ever since. She owns her own business. She's doing very well. She's about the most expensive one town, actually. And she does very well. Has loyal customers. They love her. Anyway, she came home from work one day, and she was just plowing concrete with her butt. I mean she was just tired. I looked at her and I said, Baby Girl, you're 34 years old, what are you going to do in 10 years? When you can't do this anymore? You're 34 now, when you can do five or six a day, and you're done. You can’t even cook dinner. I mean you're done. What are you going to do in 10 years when you're 44 or 45, and you can't. Are you going to start getting a degree then? Then you'll be 10 years behind the power curve..

  22. Participant #5 There may have been some unspoken or subconscious in that our daughters were getting ready to start college. I have an 18-year-old daughter, and she has an 18-year-old. And I think she thought it would be nice to be a good example for the girls.

  23. Participant #5 Negative, the added stress. The workload. I am already, I feel like I am already kind of pushing my max with just my work. Adding hers is a lot, and the, and of course, with having a kid come back to roost, which I am thrilled about, but you know. So the negative is the impact, the workload. That I have picked up. Her moods from time to time, if I am being honest, she can be. It impacts me. It does. She can be volatile when she is not getting something or when it is too much. It really pushes down on her. And she can be volatile. And so, not that we fight a lot, but there is tension. There is some, just more negative emotion. In some form or another, you know, whether she is doubting herself or maybe she's literally crying from the stress or whatever. Just angry. Negative emotion of some sort that more than what she should be experiencing. You know fatigue. She is not able to contribute financially as much as she wants was. I mean like I said, she was one of the most expensive therapist in town. She was making pretty good money. Less so now, but we are making it. It is fine, it's just it was nice to just be able to jump in the car and go to New Orleans and see a Saints game. Now that doesn't happen, you know. But, so that the negative. More just the fatigue and emotional stress..

  24. Participant #6 Yeah. Yeah. As far as me, I wasn't too worried about my needs or anything like that. I was worried more about the impact on the family as far as transportation. Because we have gone down from three cars to two cars. That wasn't a problem because she could take one and I could take one to work. Since my son graduated, he was coming to college too, and then I was concerned about how that was going to impact the hours. I was worried that they would have to get the same hours. And my other son is a senior in high school, and he needed a vehicle to get to there. Because he only goes to school for half of the day and then he goes to work. . . . My main concern was we were going to get in a situation where somebody's going to say well you know just forget it. I'm not going to go to work. My son or she’s gonna say it's not worth it. The boys need to go to work and school, so I will just drop. So I made every effort I could to just walk to work. Which is only like 5 min. away. And I'm not coming home for lunch, now. And just give them the vehicles, make them available to them. And if she would take late classes it wouldn’t fit the boys. be there to make dinner. Have the house clean and so we all started to have to just pitch in and start doing things which we weren’t normally used to doing. Because the boys even if they aren’t lazy, they have always depended on her to

  25. Participant #7 • Husband • Journey Plummer currently out of work • Young couple whose lives revolve around the kids and their sports No. she just told me she wanted to go and I said -- well like get on it. Get started.

  26. Participant #7 No there hasn't been nothing different. The only thing that has changed is personal like housework. I'm laid off at the moment so. I've been with my company for 11 years so, so you know I've always got a job -- as far as I know. And so I'm laid off and so I find myself doing a whole lot more housecleaning so she --she uses school as an excuse a lot. (Laughter). Me: Okay. Tell me what you mean by that. Participant: If there's something that needs to be done, you know, I shouldn't have to do everything. I do still bring in money still and I still work when my boss calls and says I have something for you to do. I still go and I still do it. But I still gotta do housework and she doesn't help us much as I wish she would. She doesn't want to be a housewife. She doesn't like that. That's another reason she's going to college. She doesn't want to be a housewife. She wants to have a career. I went to school for four years and become a licensed plumber. I am a journeyman plumber, so I have a career. And she wants a career.

  27. Participant #7 Sigh. I'll -- probably it is because she does not have a steady income. That's probably the only thing that really bothers me. You know I am constantly humping to make bread. And she goes to class and sits there and learns, you know what I'm saying? And it takes so long when you go to college for a career of your choosing. And you got to take the classes and put in the time. But it's a long-term waiting for you to get there, to get that career and have that steady income that you worked so hard to get, you know? I do get to missing my wife, though.

  28. Participant #7 Okay. I think they should be in school all day long. An eight hour school day in school when it is in session. And then you would not have to go as long to learn things. Do you know what I mean? Instead of having to go for four years, they could break it down into a lot sooner. Because you are acquiring more knowledge. Of course then you would have to go to a bigger campus. I don't see why you have to go to a bigger campus. Why can't you do that here. Just because there are no dorms. Is that why? I mean it is still eight hours like a public school. You know my kid, he goes to a public school. He goes five days a week, eight hours a day.

  29. Participant #10 If I can remember. She has been talking about going to school for a while, so. Well after we moved down here, from Hughes, we moved here probably at the end of 2009, so we, ever since we have been talking about going to school, and since we were so close to the college here, she just went on and decided she wanted to go to college for early childhood development. So she went to the school and she did all the necessary paperwork and got her transcript and all that. She enrolled in school.

  30. Participant #10 My Reflection Journal: L and V are an inspirational couple. As I observed them today, it was clear that they were both vested in each other, their children, their parents, and the people around them. Because the public library was closed today, I got to spend extra time with L and to interact with V more than I meant to. It will be difficult to stick to the research questions. Their story is rich.

  31. Life partners experienced • new family and relational roles • a perceived transformation of the student • a willingness to make sacrifices so the student can be successful • a prominent concern about financial considerations • continual consideration of the impact of college scheduling on the life partner and student • and a need to balance the school and work relationship. These experiences paradoxically were sometimes positive and sometimes negative for life partners and, from their perspectives, for the students. Findings

  32. If life partners so significantly impact the success and retention of nontraditional students, then we can’t ignore their experiences. We have to support life partner as they co-negotiate the college-going years. My Point

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