Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership


This research project focused on the perceptions of students from remote rural communities as they told of their transition experiences to mid-size, research-intensive university. During the spring of 2008, thirteen students from North Dakota remote rural counties agreed to be interviewed for this study. Ten females and three males from seven different counties in the state told of their pre-college experiences in a small town and what it was like for them to go to college. Tinto’s theory of student departure helped to frame the questions and Schlossberg’s transition theory informed the analysis of the data.

From this qualitative approach, an overarching theme, or meta-theme, of “Home” emerged which was supported by two constructs, environment and relationships. Each of these constructs had four themes identified that explained and described the constructs: safety, familiarity, identity and involvement. The before college “Home” for these participants was safe, caring, supportive, and stable. The after college “Home” was loud, over-whelming, and uncaring. Participants told of methods they used to integrate into the campus community that proved effective. Their pre-college experiences as well as their commitment to the institution and career contributed to their decision to persist.