This phenomenological study examined barriers to postsecondary education participation experienced by formerly incarcerated community college students (FICCSs) so policymakers and educators may be able to develop strategies to overcome identified barriers. This research was guided by a conceptual framework the researcher adapted from Cross’s (1981) model for barriers to adult participation in learning activities and Moore, Stuewig, and Tangney’s (2013) framework for understanding different types of stigma that may impact behaviors of stigmatized individuals. This investigation used a transcendental phenomenological design to provide rich descriptions of common experiences shared by 15 FICCSs in their attempts to access and persist in higher education. This study addressed notable gaps in the literature related to barriers to adult participation in higher education, stigma faced by the formerly incarcerated (FI) population, and FI students’ experiences in higher education. This research illuminates an urgent and emerging social issue (increasing recidivism rates) and addresses an urgent call to action (for community colleges to help reduce recidivism by supporting the inclusion and success of FI students).
Dissertation Flyer (Dreger)