Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Hu, Xiaodan

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling and Higher Education (CAHE)


It is estimated that 70% of all newly created jobs in Illinois by 2020 will need education beyond a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) diploma. In Illinois, 12% of adults 25 and older do not have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Individuals without a high school diploma or GED are twice as likely to be unemployed and if they are employed are more likely to be in a low-wage position. On average an individual without a high school diploma or GED will earn roughly $10,000 less annually. Given the increasing need for a high school diploma or equivalent as a gateway to future earning potentials for individuals, community colleges have historically been places where individuals could take courses to prepare them to take the GED exam.

This case study investigated the barriers faced by adult learners at a midwestern community college. The participants for the case study were selected based on having not earned their GED diploma after taking two or more semesters of GED preparation classes. During the case study, 20 GED program participants took part in semi-structured individual interviews. The semi-structured interviews allowed the participants to give their personal narratives on what they perceive as their barriers to completion, as well as where the GED program had gaps in service. The results of the case study revealed three themes: external

barriers, internal barriers, and systematic barriers. Based on the results, it was recommended that the subject community college should increase its efforts to inform GED students about the support services offered through the college, increase instructional supports, and pursue student support services grants.


96 pages




Northern Illinois University

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