School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy


Patricia Ferrin


early college high school, high school transition, Schlossberg's transition theory, qualitative study




The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand the experiences of graduates of an early college high school (ECHS) in the South on their transition to a four-year university. During this research a students' experiences with a transition was generally defined as their transition to a four-year university after they graduate high school with their associate degree. The theory guiding this study was Schlossberg’s transition theory, which explores how people cope with transitions. The central research question examined during this study is “How do graduates of an ECHS in the South describe their experiences with their transition to a four-year university?” The three sub-questions in this study examined students’ experiences of moving in, moving through, and moving out of the four-year university. A transcendental phenomenological research design was used to study the research questions. The study included 11 participants that graduated from the southern collegiate high school located on the Southern Community College campus. Data was collected using a questionnaire, a semi-structured interview, letter-writing, and focus groups. The data was analyzed using phenomenological reduction, which includes horizontalization, imaginative variation, and synthesis. Several themes emerged including 1) Self-Awareness 2) Academic Preparation 3) College Awareness and 4) Relationships. Each of these primary themes have several sub-themes that also emerged. These themes and sub-themes informed the answers to the research questions regarding the experiences of graduates from an ECHS and their transition to a four-year university.

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