Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Frankie S. Laanan


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand and illuminate the experiences and stories of Midwestern Community College transfer students who entered and left engineering at a large Midwestern research university. Participants were invited based the following selection criteria: (1) Midwestern Community College transfer students who enter engineering; (2) completion of Calculus I and II, Physics, Chemistry, English I and II prior to transferring; (3) stayed in engineering at least 2 semesters; and (4) left engineering in the Fall 2010, Spring 2011, or Fall 2011 semesters for another major.

Eight students participated in this qualitative study. The researcher encouraged the participants to share their perceptions and experiences of the various transitions involved in this phenomenological sequence of events. The following themes emerged: (a) Community college is like an extension of high school; (b) Inadequate community college advising; (c) Academic rigor; (d) "I can't/don't want to do this anymore...;" (e) Lack of academic support; (f) Variable quality of student-faculty interactions; (g) Sense of belonging; and (h) Challenges of being an older student.

Students in this study described a clashing of cultures as they transitioned from a community college to a large research university. Further study is needed in order to understand the complexity of this student experience and to develop policies and programs which meet the needs of engineering transfer students.


Copyright Owner

Mary Elizabeth Darrow



File Format


File Size

129 pages