School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Joseph F. Fontanella


Attrition, Community College, Culture, Experience, Military Veterans, Transition


Community College Leadership | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology | Higher Education


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the experience of “discontinued enrollment” for military veteran students at western Virginia community colleges. The theory guiding this study was Schlossberg’s (1981) transition theory, as the military veteran students were in transition from the military to the community college. The research questions were, how did military veterans describe their experiences at the community college, and what factors did military veterans identify as influencing their decision to discontinue enrollment? The methodology chosen was transcendental phenomenology which followed a focused structure and data collection methods including interviews, a questionnaire, member checks, and collection of related documents. The study purposefully selected United States military veterans with at least 12 consecutive months of active-duty service, who were in transition after September 11, 2001. These military veteran students subsequently enrolled full-time at a western Virginia community college and discontinued enrollment. Data analysis was structured but emergent, beginning with theme development and followed by coding to develop and describe the “essence” of the participants’ experience and their influences at western Virginia community colleges. The research found discontinued enrollment was a result of peripheral v. primary goal disagreement, insufficient preparedness for community college, and a lack of social connectedness.