Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies

First Advisor

Christian Anderson


Rural secondary school students are often characterized as possessing fewer of the assets necessary for college enrollment, such as role models, moderate to high income, advanced high school coursework and exposure to high skill occupations (Gibbs, 2000). However, the students may participate in secondary and post-secondary initiatives, known as dual enrollment programs, which allow secondary school students to take college courses while enrolled in high school (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2010). Though the programs provide advanced coursework, current dual enrollment research presents conflicting information about the initiative’s impact on the post-secondary success of its participants (Bailey, Hughes & Karp, 2002; Bragg & Kim, n.d.; Karp & Jeong, 2008). Thus, the study examines how dual enrollment programs contribute resources and opportunities to foster the post-secondary motivations and commitments of rural secondary school students. The investigation, in a case study format, explores the structures, policies and practices of dual enrollment programs with engagement theory and social identity theory as its theoretical basis. The qualitative study includes interviews, observations and artifact reviews of dual enrollment programs at three South Carolina community colleges and includes the perspective of students, parents and program administrators. Findings of the study reveal a college-going standard, cooperative partnerships, college-going networks, high school support, financial assistance, college instructors and courses as well as a college identity-building process as significant elements of dual enrollment programs provided to rural secondary school students.