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This study focuses on young adults under the age of 26 who enrolled in a 4-year college, left college, then later re-enrolled in either the same or a different college. The students stopped-out of college for various reasons. Purposeful sampling identified eight participants, mostly from New England, who were in different stages of the stopping-out process. Qualitative data was gathered through interviewing these participants. The purpose of this study is to construct stories from the students' words and interviewee observations as a way to better understand how students made meaning from their stopping-out experiences. An overview of retention missions and practices in higher education, as well as an examination of young adult development theories, provides two perspectives on the situation. However, the students' perspectives are the central focus of this research. The participants spoke frequently about their explorations of identity, expectations, choices, pressures, fears, and responsibilities while stopping out of college. Their words also referred to the need for care, support, acceptance, friends, and community. This study lets these students tell their stories. Parents and professionals concerned with young adult college students may listen to these voices and learn from them, just as they learn from consideration of developmental theories and retention policies. The participants of this study demonstrated that through the acts of asking and telling their stories, they could put into words how they made meaning of their experience. This research brings another perspective to the understanding of young adults meaning-making while stopping-out of college.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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