Find Your Way is the name of our regional guidebook series, based on a current research project, Student Parents on Campus, intended to systematically and comprehensively identify every college and university with supportive services or programs for student parents in the United States.
Our research process utilizes the official list of accredited colleges and universities, as provided by the appropriate accrediting body for a particular region as defined by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Using publicly available web-based data, and a careful search and review protocol, our research teams review the websites of each institution one at a time, asking the question, What services or supports would be available to a student parent attending this institution? Our protocol involves deeply searching through available web-based materials as thoroughly and completely as possible. For example, researchers not only look at the residence life website for indicators of family housing, they also peruse PDF files such as housing applications and residence life manuals looking for indicators of family housing options, even if they are minimal or offered as a case-by- case exception.
We use web-based information, because this is the primary source used by prospective student parents as they consider their college and university application prospects. If a team of trained researchers using a thorough protocol to review web-based materials cannot find information about resources available, chances are that current and prospective student parents cannot find this information either.
As we completed the first two regions of this project, as a means of piloting our protocol and methods, we have also refined the process, and added new services such as on-campus food pantries to our search protocol.
Additionally, although there is no comparable comprehensive database of non-profit organizations serving student parents, where we are aware of non-profit and community-based programs that support student parents, we have also added this information to our guidebooks, although, it is admittedly not possible to provide comprehensive information on such programs that would parallel our review process for colleges and universities.
To date, our research teams have completed review of New England (based on the New England Association of Schools and Colleges) and the Mid-Atlantic (based on the Middle States Association of Colleges and Universities). We are currently underway on a project replicating this research process in the South (Southern Association of Schools and Colleges), forming a research team for California and Hawaii (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) in partnership with four Western regional colleges and universities, and we are working toward additional projects focused on the Northwest (Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges) and Mid-West/Plains Regions (Higher Learning Commission) in the upcoming future.
We also recognize that U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands are currently not included within our dataset. Although these territories are overseen by the above regional accreditation boards, because of their lack of physical proximity to their corresponding U.S. regional jurisdiction, we believe the best approach to addressing these territories is to separate them as their own distinct “region.” If you are interested in starting a research team focused on U.S. Territories, please contact us!
If you are interested in supporting this research effort or would like to order printed copies of the Find Your Way guidebook for your region please contact us!