Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Sydney, M. Parent


The high attrition rates of adult learners at a 2-year, southeastern community college are a continuing concern among college administrators. These high rates have resulted in an increased number of nontraditional adult learners failing to persist and complete a program of study. Poor persistence and noncompletion of a degree create budgetary loss and reduced revenue critical to the support of the college’s use of resources and services to students. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore nontraditional adult learners’ perspectives of their college experiences and the influences, challenges, and barriers that prohibited their degree completion. Tinto’s student integration model was used as the conceptual framework to guide the inquiry. The research questions focused on the influences, challenges, and barriers experienced by nontraditional noncompleters at the college. Nine adult learners, who matriculated for 1+ semesters between 2012-2014 and did not graduate or reenroll, volunteered to participate in the study. Data were collected using semistructured, face-to-face interviews and were analyzed thematically applying open and axial coding strategies to find emergent themes. Participants perceived that insufficient technology access and student support services featuring orientation, advising, child care, and streamlined degree paths contributed to their nonpersistence. Based on the findings, a policy recommendations paper was developed for college administration detailing the need for a dedicated adult student center for nontraditional students. This endeavor could support positive social change if administration would provide increased advising, college orientation, focused communication, child care, and technology access and support, which could promote adult learner persistence for more successful degree completion and reduce attrition rates.