Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe and understand how parolees experience participating in the community college element of a reentry program. This program was located in a Midwestern county and the parolees who chose to participate in the higher education aspect of this reentry program were a small subset of those who participated in the overall reentry program. Research questions included: What influences a parolees' decision to enroll in the community college element within a reentry program? How do such parolees describe their experiences as a student in a community college? How do such parolees describe the influence of being a community college student on their lives? One-on-one interviews with 11 parolee college students were used to gain the perspective of the parolee in relation to community college experience.

Major themes that emerged from the data include: parolees enrolled in community college like the college environment and taking college classes; they are role models for their families; and different as college students than they were prior to going into prison; most had no encouragement by parent(s) to take college classes prior to being released to the community; the main challenge of being a college student is studying/homework; goals for the future include completing the college program and obtaining (better) employment; and parolees enrolled in community college had no encouragement by corrections/reentry program to take college classes.

The findings of this study provide higher education, corrections, and reentry programs a well rounded perspective on the parolee student experiences and allows them to make more informed decisions about their services in order to optimize students' experiences, as well as students' learning.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access