Jill Zambito

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Kortegast, Carrie A., 1975-

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Higher education; Adult education


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of college students who are mothers at a large, public Midwestern research university. Using a feminist theoretical perspective, the focus of the research was to better understand how students who are mothers experience college. I sought to understand how the gendered nature of higher education and family roles impacted the experience of college mothers. A set of three semi-structured interviews was conducted with eight participants who identified as college students who are mothers. This interview process was followed by an analysis of the data using epoche bracketing, phenomenological reduction, horizonalization, imaginative variation and textural and structural descriptions. I examined all of the data using Schlossberg's transition theory as a model to understand how students who are mothers navigate transitions during their college experience. The main themes identified include; Octopus Mom; Personal Relationships Provided Emotional and Logistical Support of College Students Who are Mothers; Changes to Self and Threats to Persisting and Engaging in College. These findings furthered the literature on this subject. Recommendations and suggestions for further research are also provided.


Advisors: Carrie Kortegast.||Committee members: Suzanne Degges-White; Katrina Myers Caldwell.||Includes bibliographical references.


ix, 187 pages




Northern Illinois University

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