Post-GED-Credential College Prospects for Adults with Special Needs
The purpose of this qualitative research paper is to describe the college prospects of transitioning adults with a GED credential and special needs, in terms of characteristics, challenges, attributes, and supports; the article concludes with interviewee and researcher recommendations for adult education programs and colleges to support transitioning adults.
Many adults with special needs, who did not finish high school, complete a GED® credential to go to college. As they prepare to transition, they may encounter barriers and likely require supports to succeed in college. The purpose of this qualitative research paper is to describe the college prospects of transitioning adults with a GED credential and special needs, in terms of characteristics, challenges, attributes, and supports. Findings emerged from qualitative interviews of GED passers in the recent Perceptions and Pathways research project. Tenacity motivated many interviewees toward resilience. Enrollees with special needs valued encouragement from a family member or an instructor during their college experience. The article concludes with interviewee and researcher recommendations for adult education programs and colleges to support transitioning adults.
Both new and experienced adult educators can benefit from this resource. The introductory portion of the article (the review of the literature) presents a clear overview of the importance of- and challenges to- GED attainers proceeding on to college. It presents common factors that influence movement to college and situates them in the context of adults with disabilities/special needs. There is also a useful explanation of the distinction between "disability" and "special needs." The interview topics and process could serve as models for adult educators who may wish to interview potential/enrollees in their program. The results report on important factors that may influence GED attainers’ progression to and success in college and provide recommendations on how adult educators and others may attend to those factors to support their students.
The resource can be used to promote discussion among colleagues, change and improve current practices, and outline future needs.
This resource focuses on the college prospects of transitioning adults with special needs who have a GED credential. It is a follow up to the Perceptions and Pathways qualitative research project (Quigley, B.A., Patterson, M.B., & Zhang, J. (2011). Perceptions and Pathways: Life decisions of GED ® test credential recipients from secondary to postsecondary education, a preliminary report.) The resource explores a subset of interviewee data several years after participants in the initial study received their GED credential. While the American and international contexts have evolved since this research was published in 2014, the factors it identified are largely still relevant to adult educators and their enrollees.
The introduction clearly explains the factors that relate to GED attainers pursuing and persevering in college. The authors cite many useful studies and resources to support their case.
Research questions include:
- What are the characteristics and educational background of interviewees with special needs?
- What challenges did interviewees face as they consider their college prospects?
- What attributes related to resilience were evident among college-bound interviewees?
- What was the length of time to enrollment and completion and how many completed? And
- What supports did interviewees describe and recommend when deciding about college and during their college experience?
There is also a helpful distinction of "disability" and "special needs”. Oddly, the researchers do not distinguish which specific condition(s) their respondents represent. This is a minor limitation, as the trends in the influencing factors are clear. Many adult educators will recognize these factors in the lives of their enrollees. The resource provides first-person descriptions of how the factors impacted the research participants. The discussion of the research results includes practical suggestions on how to prepare for/respond to the factors, and they are supported by research and other credible resources.
The topic of passing the GED test combined with the college prospects of adults with diverse special needs is a rarely researched topic. For that reason alone, this resource is significant.
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