At-Risk High School Graduates and Their Post-Graduation Experiences: A Phenomenological Study



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The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the experiences and perspectives of students who were identified as at-risk during high school and have transitioned into emergent adulthood. Sources of data included responses from eight participants, selected via purposeful sampling, through a semi-structured interview. This in-depth study revealed challenges and barriers the participants experienced during high school and post-graduation. Three major themes emerged from the study: attitude, influential relationships, and environment. All participants considered dropping out of high school due to similar factors such as negative peer influences, family challenges, mental health, substance abuse, and an overall poor school environment. For all participants, transferring to the at-risk alternative high school made a positive difference and allowed them to graduate high school. Findings from this study provide recommendations for supporting students who are at-risk during high school and as they transition into emergent adulthood. Opportunities for future research include expanding the demographics of the participants as well as examining the significance of peer relationships at an alternative high school.



Education, General