Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Higher & Adult Education

Committee Chair

R. Eric Platt

Committee Member

Alison Happel-Parkins

Committee Member

Daniel Collier

Committee Member

Stephen A Zanskas


The context surrounding today’s college-going youth is different from when their parents pursued higher education in the late 1980s to early 2000s. I sought to understand how these parents, now as adults with children on the doorstep of their own college-going process, form knowledge about 21st century college-going and what sources these parents suspect they will utilize to form knowledge. I created two main research questions around how parents form knowledge about college-going and what sources they suspect they will use. My theoretical framework was transformative learning theory and existing college-going scholarship. I conducted a qualitative research study using constructivist grounded theory methodology. Ten participants who met the criteria of being parents of 8th graders, as well as parents who were not currently enrolled at the research site were interviewed. The semi- structured interview guide was designed to reveal learning habits, information sources, and assess how closely parents followed transformative learning theory’s stages. My main findings are that parents have an existing college-going schema. There are benefits and limitations to parents holding this existing knowledge. The second main finding is that parents found discontent with their existing knowledge and sought to reframe their child’s soon-to-come college-going process. The last main finding is that parents suspect they will leverage their network sources to gather information about college-going. I conclude by connecting my findings to my theoretical framework and offer a summary theory. Three major implications that address the high school, the higher education field, and the family are shared. I provide seven recommended actions for consideration at the high school level, nine recommended actions for consideration for the higher education industry, and nine recommended actions for families that are influenced by my findings. Four future research studies to deepen the understanding of parents’ formation of college-going knowledge are presented, too. Keywords: adult learning, transformative learning theory, college-going, parents, high school, technology, community, college admissions, private high school admissions.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest


Open Access