Adult education student transition and persistence in community college

Tupa, Carrie Lynn
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Using Interactive Qualitative Analysis (IQA), this study examined the experience of individuals who earned a high school equivalency following the completion of a federal adult education program, then transitioned to community college. The IQA research protocol was used to address three research questions: 1) What are the elements/factors that make up The College Experience/Being a Student for individuals who have completed their high school equivalency? 2) How do these elements/factors relate in a system of influence? 3) How do the experiences of adult education students who transition to college compare to those of traditional college students. Following several focus groups, eight affinities were identified: 1) Faculty Impact; 2) Playing the Game; 3) Life Management; 4) Academic Life; 5) Relationships; 6) Growth and Transformation; 7) Emotions; 8) Career Advancement/Reward and Purpose. Interviews were conducted with 20 former adult education students to examine the relationships between these affinities in a system of influence. The affinity of Faculty Impact was found to be a primary driver in the College Experience for these students, and further analysis of interviews highlighted additional positive and negative experiences faced by students relative to the various affinities. Implications of this research highlight the importance of postsecondary institutions addressing all barriers students may face during participation, in particular nontraditional students, and considering all characteristics of these students when mapping out a plan for their success and persistence.