Date Dissertation Completed


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education


Education Studies

Dissertation Advisor

Nicholas Wysocki

Dissertation Committee Members

Amy Hornby Uribe, Jerry Redman


Winona, Minnesota


Adult Learners are no longer a minority population in the higher education landscape in the United States. They enter and re-enter technical and community colleges with a vast array of experiences and are often influenced by their Extra-Institutional Bonded Social Networks (EIBSN) which are identified in this research as: Family, Friends, Work, Community, and Religious/Spiritual. The college student’s academic journey is outlined in three major phases, what are identified in this research as: Entry/Re-Entry, Persistence, and Transfer/Graduation. This study researches the social impacts of the five identified EIBSN at each of the three phases and is underpinned by several theorists’ seminal and foundational literature, laying the conceptual framework and informing the research methodology. This study is a predominantly qualitative study with quantitative supports. Transcendental Phenomenology brackets out the Adult Learner’s experiences through a collective case study, as all participants share identifiers of Adult Learners, attending the same institution, and attending in the same five-year window before COVID-19. Inductive coding of transcribed interviews sets the stage for the convergence/divergence analysis, which identifies common, positive experiences amongst the Adult Learners. A summary of these findings will inform recommendations to student and academic affairs personnel at technical and community colleges to affect positive change for the Adult Learner experience, thus increasing retention and completion of academic goals.



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