Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Counseling and Human Development

Degree Program

Counseling and Personnel Services, PhD

Committee Chair

Longerbeam, Susan

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Hirschy, Amy

Committee Member

Hirschy, Amy

Committee Member

Immekus, Jason C.

Committee Member

Taylor, Angela

Author's Keywords

Student parents; first-time beginning students; bachelor degree attainment; grade point average


Using data from the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) (National Center for Education Statistics, n.d.) from 2012 to 2017 acquired by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) survey program, this study addresses the research questions of whether there is a difference in degree attainment of earning a bachelor’s degree in the time period from 2012 through 2017 and whether there is a difference in academic achievement as defined by students’ grade point average between students who have dependent children and those who do not have dependent children between the ages 18 to 29 attending a four-year institution after controlling for the effects of gender, race/ethnicity, marital status, socioeconomic status, and high school ACT score. It uses Tinto’s (1993) longitudinal model of institutional departure and Tinto and Pusser’s (2006) model of Institutional Action for Student Success to argue for an understanding of how higher education professionals can improve or development institutional action, practices, and policies to increase college students with children’s academic achievement and degree attainment rates. The results revealed students with dependent children are significantly less likely to attain a degree compared to students without dependent children. More specifically, female students are significantly more likely to gain a degree compared to male students. Even though data indicated that there was no association between those who were single and never married versus those who were married, living with a partner in obtaining a degree, the results revealed those who had Pell grants were significantly less likely to obtain a degree. Furthermore, the correlations from this study indicate that as students’ ACT score increase, their odds of attaining a degree increases. Though data indicated that the mean of students’ GPA with dependent children is significantly less than students without dependent children, female GPA scores are significantly higher than male GPA scores and Whites, Hispanics, and Asians have significantly higher mean GPA scores than Blacks. In addition, the study revealed there is no significant difference between Black students and the other reference groups, and between students with Pell grants and students without Pell grants on their GPA score. However, the results revealed students who are married have significantly lower mean GPA scores than students who currently do not have a live-in partner, while there is still a significant positive association existing between students’ ACT and college GPA scores. These findings indicate the need to encourage higher education professionals and leaders on college campuses nationwide to implement additional institutional actions, policies, and practices to enhance students with children’s academic achievement and degree attainment rates. Keywords: college students with children, student parents, First-Time Beginning Students (FTBs), degree attainment, academic achievement, grade point average