Homeless Not Hopeless: Engaged Faculty and Homeless Students' Voiced Challenges and Champions to Post-Secondary Education Admission and Completion

Nicole Marie Ingram, Fayetteville State University


The rising prevalence of homelessness among students is a real phenomenon at all levels of educational institutions. This study explored the multifaceted champions and challenges faced by students experiencing homelessness and collected data from subject matter experts to mitigate the impact on their educational journey and future students experiencing homelessness in educational institutions. Selected studies on homeless youth have focused on the physical or psychological aspects of homelessness from a medical perspective. The educational experiences of homeless youth aspiring for post-secondary education or navigating post-secondary education are very limited and have not seemingly been the focus of research. Homeless students are vulnerable to adverse outcomes due to many different factors. Some of the contributing factors of homelessness are attributed to unstable housing, resulting in temporary living situations, like hotels, shelters, cars, substandard housing, even outside tents, and poverty. Considering these challenging factors, some homeless students still obtain academic resilience and personal success, overcoming the odds against them. Resilience in the face of hardship is essential for homeless students to succeed and rise above homelessness. Some students have aspirations for post-secondary education to improve their quality of life. Education plays a vital role in how youth mature into adults. This study used a mixed methods approach informed by both qualitative and quantitative methods and collected data from voluntary participants (N=33). Exploratory, descriptive, phenomenological research approaches informed the study’s methodology. The open-ended survey items sought to capture the lived experiences of challenges and champions to post-secondary education admission and completion as voiced by students currently and formerly experiencing homelessness and faculty and staff that directly engaged with this sometimes-invisible population of students. This research study’s selected limitations included a small sample size and is not a representative sample of the population but provided findings of factors and selected variables from the participants completing the research instrument called HOPES, Homeless Opportunities and People’s Expectations for Students (Ingram & Moffett, 2023). Additionally, selected limitations appeared to be participants’ duration (chronically, episodically, or temporarily homeless). The factors contributing to homelessness may vary, which may diminish the transferability of the results and cannot be generalized. However, selected findings from participants seemingly support that resilience and perseverance prevailed over all their trauma to champions of post-secondary education admission and beyond. This study inquired into the research questions on what academic experiences, if any, of current or former homeless students, supported the idea of post-secondary education engagement and persistence to promote sustained positive life change and what did the former and current homeless students self-report as the factors promoting or inhibiting their academic success and maintaining academic continuity? It is recommended, as a result of the findings, that stakeholders are provided a better understanding of the self-identified obstacles and academic experiences that challenge the post secondary aspirations of students experiencing or having experienced homelessness in hopes of developing more resources to eliminate those challenges and help others identify avenues to success in post-secondary education. Based upon selected findings from the study, a comprehensive analysis of homelessness among children in schools and students graduating from high school and seeking to attend college should be conducted with outcomes reported to the U.S. Congress (House of Representatives and U.S. Senate). By understanding the challenges and champions of homelessness among students, local, state, and federal policymakers, educators, and community stakeholders can aim to facilitate the development of evidence-based strategies and policies that promote academic success and holistic well-being for this unique student population.

Subject Area

Social work|Educational administration|Education|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Ingram, Nicole Marie, "Homeless Not Hopeless: Engaged Faculty and Homeless Students' Voiced Challenges and Champions to Post-Secondary Education Admission and Completion" (2023). ETD Collection for Fayetteville State University. AAI30811500.