Going back to school: Characteristics, motivations, deterrents, and needs of adult male reentry students at a community college

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Teaching and Learning

First Committee Member

Gilbert Cuevas - Committee Chair


The purpose of this study was to add to the limited knowledge which is currently available about adult male college reentry students. This study examined the characteristics of adult male reentry students at a community college, the reasons for their return to formal education, deterrents to their participation in higher education, and the needs which these students perceive themselves to have in an academic setting.The population (N = 372) for this study consisted of all male reentry students 30 years of age or older in their first term of enrollment or re-enrollment in an Associate of Arts degree program at Miami-Dade Community College during Winter term, 1992. A 5% random sample (n = 35) stratified by age (30-39, 40-49, 50+) was drawn from the subject pool of 372 for interviews.The study consisted of a demographic profile of the population and sample, and responses from the sample of men to questions about their motivations, deterrents, and needs. An existing data file and a researcher-developed instrument were used. Interviews were conducted by telephone.The variables in the data file included: age, race/ethnicity, prior education, and part-time/full-time status. Chi square tests were performed to determine statistical significance between age and the other variables. Additional socio-demographic information was provided by the sample data. The analysis technique used for the interview data was patterned after the constant comparative method.Adult reentry students were characterized as young (mainly in their 30's), Hispanic, with prior college experience, and attending part-time. Most men returned for job and career reasons. Most often, the return was "triggered" by some event. Deterrents to earlier college participation varied by age category. Most anticipated and experienced problems associated with their return. The most frequently encountered problems were: problems with courses, illness or fatigue, conflicts with work, lack of time, and family responsibilities. Most men believed they had unmet needs in the academic setting. Needs cited by the men included: changes in course/curriculums, particularly shorter, more practical courses; changes in registration, particularly longer hours and greater availability of academic counselors, increased financial aid, including easier payment plans; and more counseling/support.


Education, Community College; Education, Adult and Continuing

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