Credentials Display

Chi-Kwan Shea, PhD, OTR/L
Gordon Muir Giles, PhD, OTR/L


Background: Students at a continuation high school (CHS) attended an occupational therapy program to acquire life skills in preparation for their transition from secondary education. Most of the students who participated in the OT program planned to pursue a postsecondary education (PSE), but the CHS students encountered many barriers in negotiating the requirements of PSE. Discernment of these barriers encountered by the CHS students may enable the occupational therapy practitioners to better prepare the students for PSE.

Method: This was a qualitative phenomenological study based on analyses of interview data. Semi-structured one-on-one interviews were conducted with eight CHS senior students and five CHS graduates with the aim to explore the students’ beliefs and knowledge regarding their transition to PSE.

Results: The CHS students consistently reported PSE to be essential for successful adulthood but were unable to describe basic PSE entry requirements and processes. The students did not report concerns regarding their intellectual aptitude for PSE but reported entrenched negative behaviors, particularly truancy, as potential barriers to success. The students acknowledged responsibility for their successes and/or failures without blaming either others or the social environment.

Conclusion: It is recommended that OT interventions focus on guiding the students to access knowledge of the PSE process and set realistic personal, education, and career goals with incremental action steps leading to goal achievement.