Why go back to school? Investigating the motivations of student parents to pursue post-secondary education
This study explored the factors that motivate student parents to pursue post-secondary education. Student parents at four Canadian universities (n=398) completed open-ended questions on their reasons for attending school in an online survey. Using Possible Selves Theory as a lens, we conducted a directed content analysis and found that student parents’ motivation to attend school has a strong future orientation. Primary motivators for engaging in post-secondary study included: to attain a valued job/career, higher education, and inspiration from family. Secondary motivators included: personal development, improvement in lifestyle and income, inspiration from relationships outside the family, the desire to be socially responsible, to overcome physical/mental challenges, and to develop a new hobby. The results indicate that student parents’ reasons for pursuing post-secondary education are varied and complex; it is therefore important that government and university policymakers are aware of the uniqueness of this population when making decisions on policies and supports.