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Holistic Student Supports

#CCWomenSucceed advisory group releases new research agenda

Thinking & Advocacy
May 7, 2021

This week the Community College Women Succeed (CCWS) advisory group announced the release of a research agenda designed to increase understanding of the needs of parents who are attending college, advance equitable access, and provide data to help colleges better serve student parents.

The CCWS Advisory Group comprises leaders from 12 organizations who work at the forefront of innovations in policy, programming, and knowledge sharing to increase racial and economic equity for community college students and their families at school and within their communities, with a particular focus on single mothers who are attending college.



Community College Women Succeed: Research Agenda

The research agenda aims to inform and inspire further research on the most crucial data points for understanding student parents in community colleges. These include gathering more data on who these students are, labor market outcomes, recruitment and enrollment practices, student success strategies, financing education, understanding the experiences of children and community college women, and experiences during the pandemic. 

Download the research agenda

Minimalistic graphic image of a mother kneeling in front of her child and smiling.

Centering women and mothers in college

One-third of all women attending community college are mothers, 60 percent of whom are single parents. Understanding their unique experience is at the center of helping colleges and organizations produce more equitable outcomes for women, their children, and their communities.

The CCWS research agenda outlines seven focus areas where further research and knowledge would benefit efforts to support women and mothers in community college. These are:

  1. Descriptive evidence on who student parents are, where they are in the system, and their educational outcomes
  2. Labor market outcomes
  3. Recruitment and enrollment practices
  4. Student success strategies
  5. Financing education
  6. Understanding the experiences of children
  7. Community college women and COVID-19

To learn more about the strategies and priorities shared in each topic, access and download the research agenda here.

A path charted by urgency and optimism

“During the pandemic, we have seen significant declining enrollment across all of our students, but it has been particularly acute among student parents. Even before the pandemic, student parents were already living in or near poverty, facing insecurity in meeting basic needs, and more likely to be working than students without children,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Understanding student parents’ unique and layered identities make finding and understanding the data and investigations outlined in the research agenda all the more urgent. Student parents must be part of our student success agendas that center on equity and meet our student parents where they are.”

The research agenda is designed to do just that: further understand the student parent experience at the national, state, institutional, and community level to design a higher education system capable of closing equity gaps, setting all students up for success.

The learnings gleaned from this research are intended to guide new areas of inquiry as the higher education landscape of data, policy, and practice evolves. Specifically, the agenda intends to guide advisory members’ research questions and considerations for funded research and be utilized by graduate students and community college practitioners to build knowledge in this field.

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