Postsecondary Education for the Underserved in America: A Study of Highly Non-traditional Students in Community Colleges

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Title: Postsecondary Education for the Underserved in America: A Study of Highly Non-traditional Students in Community Colleges
Author: Freeman, Jerrid P.
Advisors: Dr. John Levin, Committee Chair
Abstract: High paying and low skilled industrial jobs are diminishing, while low skilled and low paying service jobs are increasing. Those who are out of work or underemployed and lack the necessary education to fill higher paying jobs will be unable to fill a needed role in the economy. This change signifies a changing economy, the new economy, where globalization and evolving technology have facilitated a rapidly changing knowledge and skill base. If those who are unable to fill a role do not to gain the necessary knowledge and skills, not only will they lack economic self-sufficiency, but also they will be a drain on the American economy and society. New economy theory postulates a call to balance the needs of the economy and the needs of individuals, or the well being of society, individuals, and the economy will deteriorate. Education is the primary avenue to meet the needs of a changing workforce and the needs of individuals, especially those underserved. Community colleges are the most able to supply the education for these underserved students (Carnevale & Desrochers, 2001; Carnoy, 2000; McCabe, 2000). Through the perceptions and experiences of students who are 'beyond the margins,' the data supplies guidance on how to effectively meet the needs of this population for the benefit of these individuals, society, and the economy. These suggestions follow from the experiences and perceptions of over sixty students interviewed at three community colleges in different regions of the U.S. that were theoretically appropriate (Mason, 1996). The major conclusion identified was the lack of consciousness that 'beyond the margins' students exhibit. These students reveal their lack of awareness through their limited knowledge and understanding of society, work, money, and education. It was also identified that underserved students must receive individualized and specific assistance through a well-designed educational support system to accomplish their academic and work aspirations. The students interviewed noted the value of additional support by faculty and staff, various support services, student tracking systems, multiple course-taking pathways, policies and procedures, institutional initiatives and priorities, and funding to encourage their academic success.
Date: 2005-11-10
Degree: EdD
Discipline: Higher Education Administration

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