School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy


Jerry Woodbridge


connectedness, framework, institutions, perceptions, nontraditional, retention rates


Educational Leadership


The purpose of this exploratory case study was to explore nontraditional community college students' experiences with student support services, their connectedness to the institutions, and their overall satisfaction with the institution. Tinto’s integration framework guided this study to test connectedness and its association with student retention rates. The central research question for this study was: What are nontraditional community college students' perceptions of their overall satisfaction with the institution? The study was conducted at Waynesboro Community College in Waynesboro, NC. The purposeful sample size selected included 10 nontraditional students as research participants. The triangulation of data collection methods used in this study consisted of an interview, journal prompts, and a questionnaire. The data also included field notes and memos were also analyzed by finding commonalities in categories through coding, common themes, and phrases that were synthesized to address the research questions using exploratory analysis. Results indicated that nontraditional students do not feel connected to their institution and need support services that are unique to their needs. Four themes were identified in this study: 1) nontraditional student connectedness is not strong within the college, 2) nontraditional students need additional student support services, 3) nontraditional students with strong academic relationships are satisfied with their college experience, and 4) nontraditional students have personal factors that challenge their success in college. The sub-themes identified are nontraditional students need more knowledgeable and consistent faculty members and they have personal responsibilities that affect their success and need more social interaction in and out of the classroom.