Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Karen D. Boswer

Committee Member

Barbara Christina


This applied dissertation was designed to explore the perceived barriers and supports of High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) graduates upon their consideration of attaining a higher education degree at a community college in North Carolina. Other areas explored in this qualitative study included the way completing the HSED program changes a student’s perception of learning and/or increases his or her motivation to continue their studies.

A primary objective of the Basic Skills programs, also known as College and Career Readiness programs, is to transition as many students as possible to postsecondary education and employment. In spite of such goals, North Carolina is one of many states nationwide in which an inadequate number of HSED graduates are transitioning to college enrollment.

The researcher utilized a phenomenological approach to explore student perceptions. Interviews were conducted with 7 High School Equivalency students in a semi-structured, in-depth, individual interview format.

This study found that the largest perceived barriers of the HSED graduates upon consideration of transitioning to college were their own insecurities, language barriers, and concerns about having the time and money to complete postsecondary education. The strongest perceived supports of the HSED graduates were their instructors, available technology/distance education, and the small-group instructional settings. The participants reported an increase in motivation to continue their educational journey after graduating with their HSED, as well as an improved perception of self and learning in general.