Title

Adults who return to community colleges and graduate: An examination for life-changing event(s) in adult students' lives prior to readmission

Date of Completion

January 2003

Keywords

Education, Community College|Education, Administration|Education, Higher

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

This study documented and described the life themes and motivations associated with the transitions occurring within adult students who ranged in age from 25 to 35 years and who have re-entered a community college environment and graduated. Specifically, this study identified any events in their life which may have motivated them to pursue and attain an associate degree from a selected community college. Additionally, this study documented the graduates' perception as to whether these events and eventual graduation had a significant, positive, and lasting impact on their lives. ^ Adult students, aged 25 to 35, represent a significant percentage of “nontraditional-aged” students to today's community colleges. They often “drop-in” and “drop-out” of college because of the open enrollment policies which exist at most community colleges. Research studies have been conducted concerning reasons why adults drop out; however, there is little research which documents the motivations for adult students to return and graduate. ^ Through the use of educational biographies, informed by the Life World Transformation model (Wildemeersch & Leirman, 1988), adult students who graduated from a selected community college were able to relay their own personal stories of success. Three research questions representing the three stages of the Life World Transformation mode: The Self-Evident Life World, The Threatened Life World and the Transformed Life World were used to document and describe the life themes and motivations associated with the transitions occurring within adult students who range in age 25–35 and who have re-entered a community college and graduated and to access those experiences which may have been transformative. This study was a narrative research utilizing a life history approach and biographical case study methods. These methods helped to connect emergent themes from the biographies as the adults responded to specific research questions. ^ An analysis of the data from this study showed that adult students who graduated from a community college expressed a stronger sense of self-esteem, self-direction, purpose, motivation, personal and professional success, and empowerment which are all measures of transformation. ^