Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Kathleen M. Boyle, Ph.D.; Fr. Jean-Pierre Bongila, Ed.D.; Chien-Tzu Chou, Ph.D.


Through this longitudinal, phenomenological study, I examined the experiences of (H)Mong Long Term English Learners (LTEL) conditionally admitted to Midwest State University through the English for Academic Success Program (EAP). Over the course of six years, I interviewed participants regarding their academic and social experiences during college. Their experiences primarily fit within Tinto’s (1993) framework of departure. The participants’ pre-entry attributes, experiences within the EAP, and experiences after their year in the EAP contributed to their decision to depart or persist. None of the participants had typical connections to campus; they lived off-campus, had significant external obligations, and were not active members of the campus community. Three of the four departers, left MSU because of incongruence, suggesting that MSU was not a good fit for the participant. The fourth departer left MSU because of external obligations. The departures prior to degree were greatly influenced by the pre-entry attributes of the participants (ACT scores nine points below the University average), indicating MSU may have been their only choice in a four-year institution of higher education. Choice appears to have a significant influence on persistence. The persisters chose MSU and had strong academic role-models, either parents or siblings, that helped them negotiate the college experience. Participation in the EAP provided a sheltered environment to improve academic English and college learning strategies, but flaws within the program made it difficult for participants to transition out of the sheltered environment, both academically and socially. As the participants progressed through college, both positive and negative experiences influenced their ways of knowing and self-authorship (Baxter Magolda, 1992, 2008). A holistic approach to higher education is necessary to retain at-risk and diverse populations, particularly those who are LTELs. Success begins by effectively targeting participants during the admissions process, providing access programs that are academically rigorous, and by long-term retention efforts to improve persistence.


Hmong, Higher Education, Long term English Learner, Access Programs, Departure Theory

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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