Date of Graduation

5-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Higher Education (EdD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders

Advisor

Michael T. Miller

Committee Member

Ketevan Mamiseishvili

Second Committee Member

Kristin K. Higgins

Abstract

The purpose for conducting this study was to develop an understanding of undergraduate college students' social readiness for the collegiate experience. The study made use of a qualitative approach and a narrative research design that used focus group interviews. The seven focus group interviews were conducted at four sites across the Southern and Midwest United States, including different institutional types. These institutions included a community college, private college, research and comprehensive state university. A total of 21 undergraduate first- and second-year students participated. The findings included external factors such as parents, siblings, friends and teachers having a significant influence over the students' perceptions of their college experience. Similarly, students in the study found that participation in extracurricular activities in high school helped in their transition to college. However, for first-year students in the study, developing interpersonal relationships in their first year of college was difficult and often marked with disintegrating friendships with roommates. Sophomores in the study found themselves more comfortable in their college surroundings as well as having a solid base of friends. No matter the classification of students in the study or institution type, a connection to family and friends were important in the transition to college. By having a better understanding of the factors that contribute to the students' collegiate experience based on their expectations and experiences, administrators and faculty alike will be able to better develop policy and initiatives that will contribute to students' eventual success, satisfaction, and graduation from our institutions.

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