Increasing Transitions to College for Returning Adults with Low Academic Skills
Cox, Teresa J.
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University of Washington Abstract Increasing Transitions to College for Returning Adults with Low Academic Skills Teresa J. Cox Chair of the Supervisory Committee: Professor Emeritus Dr. Steven G. Olswang Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, College of Education Recent studies have shown that students who are former Adult Basic Education (ABE) or English as a Second Language (ESL) students rarely make the transition to college-level work, even when they have a college-level goal. New programs have been designed to help these students move further, faster in their studies to help them complete credentials, such as I-BEST (Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training) in Washington State. Even though I-BEST is a successful model, Washington community and technical colleges still struggle to recruit students into the programs, even when those students are taking their ABE and ESL courses on the college campuses. This exploratory mixed-methods study used focus groups and surveys to get upper -level ABE and former ESL student opinions on what they perceived as making those transitions difficult, how they would design a `perfect program', and specifically about their knowledge and plans related to I-BEST programs. The focus group data was used to design questions for the survey instrument, and to pose hypotheses that were then corroborated by the survey data. The study found that: 1) Upper-level ABE students do not know enough about basic college preparation functions, such as financial aid processes, to transition when their studies have prepared them to that level. 2) Students understand little about I-BEST programs, what they are, what they could do for the student, and what their options for I-BEST pathways are at their particular college. 3) Former ESL students struggle not only with language issues, but also with understanding the American higher education system and its pathways. 4) The systems and supports that the students identified as being most important for them in transitioning show that the most worrisome areas for these Washington students are: the costs of college, concern about their own abilities as college students, their concerns about getting good advising and planning assistance.
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