Former Teenage Mothers: Exploring the Resiliency, Barriers and Challenges of Pursuing a Degree in Higher Education

Cassandra S Bouknight-Bates, Fayetteville State University


Teenage pregnancies present a significant challenge for education due to the different barriers and challenges teenage mothers encounter on their journey to graduate. Despite the odds, teenage mothers have proved resilient enough to pursue higher education certifications, to the surprise of many. The researcher conducted a survey and review of the literature to establish the different aspects that push teenage mothers to withstand the hardships on their way towards attaining higher education degrees. The qualitative research provides important insights into the problem of teenage pregnancy and the different obstacles that teenage mothers face to complete their studies. The use of the expectancy theory of motivation in this study helped create a context of the challenges, solutions, and outcomes that teenage mothers expect from their effort. The study is highly relevant due to its participating sample using teenage mothers who attained master’s degrees or higher education certification, with the ages of 13 and 19. The responses provide real-time insights into the challenges faced by teenage mothers and the key motivating factors for their resilience. The common theme emerging from this research is that financial burdens pose an overarching conundrum that teenage mothers experience. However, yearning for a better life for them and their children significantly motivated the participating teenage mothers to complete their studies. The support of the family and friends played an instrumental role in the participants’ resilience to attain higher education certification. The participants showed that the most important aspect that made it possible for them to attain their desired education goals was self-belief and acquiring greater financial independence. The study provides critical insights that can be incorporated into policies to create an ideal environment for teen mothers to complete their studies. Keywords: Former Teenage Mothers; Teenage Mothers in Higher Education barriers and challenges of pursuing a degree in higher education; Teenage Mothers and college education former teen mom pursuing college degrees teen mom in higher education

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Higher education|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Bouknight-Bates, Cassandra S, "Former Teenage Mothers: Exploring the Resiliency, Barriers and Challenges of Pursuing a Degree in Higher Education" (2021). ETD Collection for Fayetteville State University. AAI28943424.