Hearing their stories : the experiences of general education development (GED) graduates in transitioning to and persisting in community college
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This dissertation reports the results of a qualitative study conducted at a community college in central Texas. Through a grounded theory approach, participant stories were used to capture the experiences of adults with a GED who transitioned to and were persisting in college. Research questions used to guide the study were: (1) What factors contribute to the decision of adults with a GED to enroll in community college; and (2) What factors do adults with a GED report influence their persistence in community college? Eight students participated in the study through individual interviews. Student demographic information was reviewed to develop a thorough and accurate profile of the study participants. Also, three Recruiting/Advising Specialists were interviewed to capture their perceptions on the experiences of GED graduates in transitioning to and persisting in college. This research demonstrated the positive effect education can have in the lives of the participants and their families. After having little to no previous exposure to higher education, students developed a realization that education was an imperative in order to improve their quality of life. This realization was instrumental in the decision by the study participants to pursue a GED and transition to college. Through the assistance of intrusive advising by Recruiting/Advising Specialists, students were able to successfully navigate the college system. Support during GED preparation was established in the GED classroom and continued for most students throughout their transition to college. When in college, students were comfortable developing relationships with faculty in order to have a source of academic support. Eventually students had a network of student and academic support that gave them a sense of belonging at the college.