Date of Conferral





Counselor Education and Supervision


Katarzyna Peoples


High school noncompleters are those who did not earn a high school diploma. Before their early departure from high school, noncompleters often struggled with challenges (poverty, mental health, addiction, and emotional and physical abuse). Some enter remedial education to earn their equivalency credential. However, in this setting, they experience additional challenges, such as increased responsibility, stress, and anxiety. The problem surrounding the experiences of noncompleters has implications for counseling due to the limited use of and access to counseling as well as the disproportionate amount of mental health concerns and adversity among noncompleters. Current literature informs of the challenges noncompleters face, however more in-depth information on their experiences is still needed. The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to address this gap and explore how adult remedial learners experience emotional and psychological challenges before dropping out and while enrolled in an equivalency program. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 7 noncompleters ages 18-25 who were enrolled in adult remedial education classes in Hawaii, spoke English as their primary language, and self-reported experiencing emotional and psychological challenges. Data analysis through the hermeneutic circle yielded 11 themes: external adversity; interpersonal, emotional, psychological, and school struggles; maladaptive behaviors; high school equivalency is positive; external and internal protective factors; counseling is positive; and counseling limitations. From a social change perspective, results can be used to improve counseling services, reduce adversity, and improve outcomes for noncompleters.