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ERIC Number: ED552427
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 191
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2679-3732-2
Emerging Adulthood and Gender Differences in Adult Bachelor Degree Completion: A Multi-Case Study
O'Riley, Shawn
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, New York University
Adult undergraduate students constitute 40% of the total undergraduates studying in the United States. However, male undergraduates and male undergraduates over the age of 25 are less likely to enroll in and complete a bachelor's degree than their female counterparts. Given the detrimental employment impacts of not earning a bachelor's degree in today's economy, I sought to determine what factors and influences impact the decision of adult men and women to enroll in and complete a bachelor's degree program. Arnett's theory of emerging adulthood is used to frame the study and discussion of findings. I explored how the environment and events of an adult undergraduate student's emerging adulthood impacted his or her decision to enroll in and complete a bachelor's degree program and what ways, if any, emerging adulthood or gender affected this decision and completion processes. I used case studies of male and female adult undergraduate students who completed a bachelor's degree between the ages of 25 and 30 to detail and analyze their path to bachelor degree completion. Analysis of participant interview data, college application materials, and other academic records revealed four themes common across all participants: (1) college, major, job, and career choices all occur simultaneously rather than consecutively; (2) the influence of family, friends, and significant others on college decisions wanes over time; (3) career decisions often trump college decisions; and (4) college financing decisions are major concerns. These emerging adult college students strongly exhibited three of Arnett's five factors of emerging adulthood: (1) instability across many areas of life; (2) a time of intense focus on the self; and (3) a feeling of being in-between things. However Arnett's factors of a feeling of greatly increased possibilities and active identity exploration were less prevalent. Moreover, gender was not an important factor in degree completion for these individuals. Implications for professional practice, including a greater concentration on classroom experiences and changes to program scheduling, are offered. Emerging adults who choose not to attend college and emerging adults with child-rearing responsibilities are two areas for continued research, as a result of this study. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A