School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Jim Zabloski


African American Students, College Readiness, First Year Experiences, Transition Theory


Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology | Education Economics | Higher Education


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenology was to understand how African American college students at mid-Atlantic 4-year public universities experience college readiness their freshman year. Using Schlossberg’s (1981) transition theory, this study has attempted to answer the central research question: How do African American students in mid-Atlantic 4-year institutions describe their college readiness experiences? Sub-questions sought to address the students’ experiences moving in to their freshman year and continued through the stages of the transition theory. These questions explored how they were able to successfully transition into their second year based upon their individual situation, self, supports, and strategies, also known as the four S’s of the transition theory. Purposeful, criterion, and snowball sampling were used to select 10-15 participants who were African American college students attending a mid-Atlantic 4-year university and had completed their freshman year. Data was collected through interviews, narratives, and focus groups. As this was a transcendental phenomenology, data was analyzed to determine textural and structural themes, which were combined to determine the essence of the phenomenon being experienced, which was college readiness. Through data analysis, 4 themes emerged: 1) identity; 2) self-management and college awareness; 3) engagement; and 4) relationships. These 4 themes informed the answers to the research questions. The resulting description of the essence of the phenomenon of African American students’ experiences with college readiness can best be described as a journey of self-discovery.