This qualitative study examined 4 emancipated foster youth who are attending college in California. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the personal criteria of 2 male and 2 female emancipated foster youths entering college and determine what factors they perceived helped them to attend college. The researcher recruited a total of 4 participants, 1 male from El Camino College Compton Center, 1 female from El Camino College, and 1 male 1 one female from CSU Dominguez Hills. The research question for this study was, What motivates emancipated foster youths to attend college? The phenomenon of being a foster youth was told through the participants‘ narratives including: their experiences growing up in the foster care system, relationships with biological and foster families, experiences in school as foster youths, who motivated or sparked their interest in attending college, who assisted them in applying for college, their experience being emancipated, and where they see themselves in the near future. Towards the end of the interview, participants were given an opportunity to provide and share additional information with the researcher including any artifacts that they brought with them, such as school projects, graded papers, awards received, and or unofficial college transcripts. The data collection and analysis was carried out using Miles and Huberman‘s (1994) conception and definition of qualitative data analysis, which constitutes three main activities for data analysis: (a) data reduction, (b) data display, and (c) conclusion drawing and participation. Constant comparative methods were utilized to form a conceptualization of the participants‘ experience. This study will give voice to a community of emancipated foster youth students who not only survived various forms of abuse and or neglect during their childhood, but also transitioned to college. This study has the potential to give knowledge about emancipated foster youth students‘ life experiences before and after emancipation to many emancipated foster youth students, foster parents, adoptive parents, social workers, college counselors, probation officers, and other community leaders who serve this population. Information gathered in this study will be compiled and shared in an aggregated form as a report or executive summary with emancipated foster youth programs throughout the county and state of California. Additionally, the findings of this study will help society and policymakers improve the quality of services that are being provided to emancipated foster youth students.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Foster children -- Deinstitutionalization; Foster children -- California -- Education (Higher)

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Schmieder-Ramirez, June;