Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Higher Education (EdD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Michael T. Miller

Committee Member

Kristin K. Higgins

Second Committee Member

G. David Gearhart


Foster Care, Foster Youth, Adjustment to College


The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the different factors that empower young adults that were in foster care to be successful in a college environment. It has been documented that foster youth have significant challenges during secondary education (Conger & Rebeck, 2001; Geenen & Powers, 2006). Due to these challenges, foster youth attend and graduate higher education at a lower rate than their peers. The perspectives of foster youth currently enrolled in higher education is critical to determining which factors and programs have helped with their educational success. Five participants completed semi-structured interviews about their secondary education, transition to college, and adjustment during college. The findings from these interviews show the importance of having a mentor to assist foster youth with the process of transitioning to college and general life skills. This study also showed the benefits of exposing foster youth to workshops, conferences, and classes to help with expectations for college and that transition. Social concerns are one of the biggest challenges for foster youth and programs are needed to help with the adjustment to college and help foster youth create and maintain support systems.