Repository logo

The lived experiences of recent high-school graduates in a three credit, semester-long, community-college student-success seminar




Szamos, Aron, author
Anderson, Sharon K., advisor
Peila-Shuster, Jackie, advisor
Hall, Bruce, committee member
Quick, Don, committee member

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Student success has been an emerging topic within K-through-16 education in recent years. Community colleges play a valuable role within higher education, and they are challenged to support and foster the success of students in reaching their goals to earn associate's degrees, certificates, and to transfer to 4-year institutions. Student-success seminars have been linked to positively impacting numerous outcomes such as student grade-point averages, student retention, and student satisfaction. Few studies have explored how and why the experiences of participants in a student-success seminar relate to these outcomes from the perspective of the students who participated in the courses. To gain a better understanding of these student experiences, I conducted a qualitative phenomenological study using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to help answer the following research questions: 1. What are the lived experiences of first-year community-college students who participated in a semester-long, student-success seminar? 2. How do these students' lived experiences of the student-success seminar influence their overall community-college experiences? 3. How do these students' lived experiences of the student-success seminar influence their decisions to remain at their institution? Six students participated in the study through semistructured interviews to explore their lived experiences in a three-credit, semester-long, community-college student-success seminar. Data analysis revealed five superordinate themes that helped to describe participants' experiences through a metaphorical journey at sea. These superordinate themes included choppy waters, a guiding light, a clearer destination, charting a course, and taking the wheel with the crew on board. Findings of this study suggest that the student-success seminar was beneficial to the participants in the following ways: mitigating the stress and anxiety associated with their high school-to-college transitions; enforcing their view of their course instructor as a source of comfort, trust, accountability, and encouragement; helping them to identify and affirm career and major goals; affirming their decisions to remain at their institution and continue their education; providing various resources that helped them achieve major and career goals; and increasing self-confidence to help them become more autonomous in their academic journey. This study provides a unique student perspective into the student-success-seminar experience and contributes to higher education by assisting community colleges in helping their students thrive in their high school-to-college transition and beyond. The findings also provide insight into how and why the student-success-seminar experience may contribute to various student outcomes highlighted in the current study.


Rights Access


lived experiences
student-success seminar


Associated Publications