Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Sociology

First Advisor

Kirsten Dellinger

Second Advisor

John Green

Third Advisor

John Sonnett

Relational Format



This thesis explores the experiences of student parents from the University of Mississippi and examines their perceptions of university policies and practices. In addition, this study gathers the perceptions from university staff members that occupy student support roles across the university on the types of issues they think student parents at this university face and the support that is available to student parents through policies and practices. I focus on one case study, the University of Mississippi. A total of 10 semi-structed, in-depth interviews were conducted with one current student parent, four recently graduated student parents, and five university staff members. I conducted an extensive review of the existing policies at the University of Mississippi in search of any policy that might relate to or impact a student parent’s experience. The policy review contributed to the institutional analysis of this study significantly. I found the school-family balance and lack of affordable childcare are the biggest issues student parents in this study face. It showcases specific barriers student parents encounter most often and how they are embedded into the structure of this organization. This thesis discusses how supporting student parents is something that is deemed essential and valued by the staff members I interviewed. However, these staff members are limited in the support that they are available to provide. The experiences student parents in this study had reveal how the “ideal student” culture is constructed, maintained, and reinforced through policies and practices. This study found that the University of Mississippi does not consider students “care taking” responsibilities when it comes to making policies and practices. Therefore, student parents must adjust their caretaking practices around it. Lastly, this thesis concludes with a discussion on the implications and recommendations for the University and potential future studies.

Included in

Sociology Commons



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