Expectations and experiences of students on welfare assistance attending short-term training at community and technical colleges
This study investigates the expectations, goals, and connections to broad educational opportunities for community and technical college students who are receiving welfare assistance. Welfare reform provides training for eligible welfare recipients to support their employability and self-sufficiency. In Washington State and in most other states, welfare recipients enroll in community and technical college short-term training programs that focus on entry-level skill development designed to increase the participants' chances of becoming self-sufficient. While a number of studies (Mathur, 2002, 2004; Mayfield, 2001; Wolfe & Gittell, 1997) have attempted to determine factors influencing employability and self-sufficiency of welfare recipients, few have provided in-depth knowledge of the participants' expectations and experiences while in these college training programs. This research project was designed to collect and analyze observations of this student population. By providing an increased understanding about student experiences and perceptions of and responses to existing programs as well as their perceived experiences within those programs, this study will potentially broaden college administrators' knowledge of this student population and positively influence program design and implementation.The primary source of data for this research is qualitative, utilizing information collected in interviews with the participants. The fourteen participants in the study are adult students with dependent children, on welfare assistance, attending college and working toward short-term vocational certification or credentials. The small size of the sample provided the researcher time to conduct open-ended, in-depth interviews that allowed respondents to fully describe expectations, experiences, and perceptions.The major findings of this study were: Educational experiences in the short-term training programs played a large role in increasing students' belief in their ability to be successful; students received more than they anticipated in skill acquisition, self-esteem and self-confidence as a result of their college experiences; programs offered little connection to the larger campus environment, thereby reducing students' exposure to further educational opportunities and auxiliary services; and students were aware that they needed more education but were not clear on how that would happen. Findings serve to inform colleges about this population and how programs for welfare recipients can support students' expectations and goals.
- Education - Seattle