All about me: Community college child development and early childhood education students
The purpose of this cross-sectional descriptive study was to describe currently enrolled students in Child Development/Early Childhood Educator programs in community colleges across the state of Texas. This included students at every stage of their community college education whether they were beginning or completing degrees, certificates or obtaining training hours.
The students were asked to complete an internet survey, Community College: All About Me, developed by the researcher with an adapted section from the Transfer Student Survey. The instrument used a Liked Scale to identify students' concerns and preparedness for academia, reasons for working, selections about courses, and the frequency and importance of college services and programs. Items included background information, importance of college goals and outcomes, student work schedules, importance of reasons students work while in college, transitions to another college, contributions to the success of students at the college, demographics, and an open-ended question related to concerns about completing a degree or certificate.
Data were collected from 1,047 currently enrolled students from 15 colleges that were classified as rural, urban, and suburban community colleges with child development and early childhood education programs. Similarities and differences were found among the patterns of responses from rural, urban, and suburban students. Results indicated that traditional students from 18 years to 25 years comprised 52.3% and nontraditional students from 26 years to 60+ years made up 47.7% of the total sample. The racial/ethnic make-up of the sample was diversified. A majority of students lived with family or relatives and worked full-time off-campus jobs while attending college.The highest intended degrees were Bachelor's (41.5%), Master's (32.2%), Associates of Applied Science (13.3%), and more advanced professional degrees (7.4%). Students intended to work in child care, public school or other fields.
Students' perceptions of college services and programs were reported by frequency of use and importance. These services and programs compared classifications. Financial aid ranked first for rural and urban students; it did not rank in the top five for suburban students. Libraries and academic advising were rated very important in all classifications. Family support and professors who were experienced and knowledgeable were very important based on students' ratings by rural, urban and suburban settings.
The findings have implications for college chairpersons, faculty, students and administrators. No one strategy met the needs of all students. Rural, urban, and suburban colleges have their own unique set of characteristics requiring them to design programs according to their specific needs, resources, and population. Recommendations for future research were addressed.