Rural routes : a study of rural high school graduate life transitions
Gress, Lorraine Helen
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This phenomenological retrospective study investigates the transitional experiences of five graduates from one rural school’s classes. The study has two guiding themes: (a) the factors which influence graduating students’ decisions for their futures, and (b) the transitions they experience following those decisions. High school graduation and the subsequent transition to life after high school was the phenomenon that each participant had undergone. During semi-structured interviews, participants discussed their decisions before and after that delineating moment. The research question was: What supports do recent graduates perceive to have existed in a small rural school to assist students in their transition from school to post secondary education or the workforce? Follow up interview questions were: (a) What challenges have recent graduates faced as they transitioned from high school to their current positions as post secondary students or employees? (b) What supports do recent graduates believe should be implemented to assist future graduates in their upcoming transitions from high school to post secondary education or the workforce? The study results indicated that graduates perceive school’s role as peripheral or tangential to their transition to their post secondary lives. The caring and interested relationships developed between students and school personnel while important, are at best, incidental and not perceived to be instrumental and in one case may be seen as limiting. The data reveals the significant influence of family, or social habitus and cultural capital on both the career and life decisions and on the transitions experienced by the participants as they adjusted to life after high school. Challenges and transitions were recounted and participant suggestions for schools were discussed. I indicated the need for increased professional development for teachers in the area of career development and transitioning, as well as the need for an expanded recognition of the pivotal roles held by family members in the transition to adulthood. Finally, I reflected on areas for further investigation which include gathering more insights from young adults and students as well as their families, investigating the transitions implicit in entering the workforce, and exploring the issue of providing hope for rural communities and schools.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
CommitteeBurgess, D.; Renihan, P.; Cottrell, M.; Jutras , J.; Stelmach, B.
Copyright DateSeptember 2009
Rural High school graduate Transitions