Dissertation

To Go or Not to Go to College: The Meaning of Education for Stopped-out Students: A Qualitative Study

This qualitative study explored the meaning of education for stopped-out students. There has been no exploration of the meaning of education for students who have stopped out of college. Stopping out of college is defined as leaving college for a period of time and then returning. the problem this study addressed is the lack of knowledge of the meaning of education for stopped-out students. the purpose of this study was to understand the differences in the meaning of education for students who stopped out of college starting from the moment they first enrolled in college, to when they stopped out, to when they returned to school, and at the time of the interview. the study relied on personal interviews with 20 participants. the study used Viktor Frankl’s (2006) logotherapy as the main lens to study stopped-out students’ meaning of education. the results indicated that when first enrolling in higher education, students viewed education as a societal expectation and an obstacle to other priorities but also as an opportunity to gain more freedom. When leaving higher education, students described education as an obstacle to other priorities, an additional source of stress, and as worthless. by the time students were returning to college, they viewed education as a means to gain freedom, as meaningful in helping others, and as a badge of honor. At the time of the interview, students described education as a source of freedom, as meaningful in helping others, and as a source of self-improvement. Based on the themes that emerged, students are more likely to persist in higher education when they give education positive meanings.

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