Date of Award

1-30-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Mary Jane Kuffner Hirt, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

David D. Chambers, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Susan J. Martin, Ph.D.

Abstract

There is a unique group of female students enrolled in a two-year technical college environment at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology (herein TSCT) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania who suffer from stressors that their male counterparts do not experience. A case study approach allowed me to explore the stressors these young women are facing in this male dominated, two-year college environment and determine if they had the potential to influence their academic performance and eventual graduation from the college. The goal was to understand the stressors of these young women at TSCT and to develop a system to address these stressors with the end result being the matriculation and successful graduation of these students. I administered a questionnaire to collect demographic information and utilized focus groups to gather data regarding stress associated with the students' educational experience. The research uncovered several short and long term stressors. The short term stressors occur during the first few weeks of school and then subside as the students successfully cope with them. These stressors were not affecting their academic performance or their persistence at the college. Several long term stressors were revealed during this research. Long term stressors occurred consistently throughout their enrollment. These stressors, being more significant in nature, had the potential to affect academic performance and persistence. However, the students' enrollment was not adversely affected by these long term stressors. Recommendations for the college administration were suggested by the participants to assist with the retention and enrollment of current and future female students. An area of future research would include research on those young women who have left the college; not only those who left while this study was occurring but those who have left during previous semesters. Determining the stressors they experienced that led to their dismissal or withdrawal would be very useful information for the college. Mechanisms could be put into place so that students experiencing these stressors could be helped before reaching the point of dismissal or withdrawal.

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