Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
The United States has experienced historically low graduation rates in public and private 2-year, degree-granting institutions. Many of these institutions are community colleges, which account for 60% of all student enrollment. This study was conducted to explore supports and services that may be helpful to working adult students over the age of 25 enrolled in a 2-year associate degree nursing program in a community college. Tinto's interactionalist theory of student persistence and retention and constructivist theory were the conceptual frameworks for this qualitative case study. The two guiding questions were focused on the types of support that would be helpful for degree completion and service improvements that would most effectively assist students to graduate. Data were collected using semistructured interviews and observations with 10 participants who volunteered from a bound system. Requirement for participation included being over the age of 25 and enrolled in the 2-year associate degree nursing program. Data were analyzed using a phenomenological reduction process and cross-sectional analysis to identify convergent and divergent themes in the data. The findings of this study highlight 5 overarching themes as described by the participants: support system, barriers to education, effect of work, engagement in school services, and recommendations for college improvement. The findings of this study could be helpful to administrators and policy makers in developing supports and services that promote retention and degree completion of students in the 2-year associate degree nursing programs. Completion of a 2-year associate-degree nursing program promotes financial viability and meets the workforce needs of the community.