Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Curriculum & Instruction


Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Speaker, Richard

Second Advisor

Killacky, Jim

Third Advisor

Paulsen, Michael

Fourth Advisor

Casbergue, Renee

Fifth Advisor

DeSanti, Roger


Narrative analysis of high school leavers' individual backgrounds examines both positive and negative reasons that; students terminate their secondary education and experiences, and return to pursue a GED- General Equivalency Diploma. This analysis examines goals for the future of these students including extended education, career choices and family situations. The goals of this study are to determine why informants leave high school before graduation and to examine these reasons across racial, cultural and gender lines. This report analyzes why students returned to receive their GEDs and how they believe the receipt of the GED will affect their goals in regards to education, family and career choices. Five themes about “high school leavers” are evident: Reflection - Why the students dropped out of school; Outside Forces - the negative and positive forces that influence the decisions the student makes; Focus - why the students finally decided to go back to school; Emotion - the role that self esteem played in relation to job status prior to and following the receipt of the GED and finally; Collaboration - the support systems that were available for the individual participants. This research follows the efforts of nine students in their struggle to understand why they became candidates for the general equivalency diploma from their reflection on leaving school, their understanding of the outside forces that aided them in their flight from high school, their focus on opportunities life offered assuming they returned to get a general equivalency diploma, the collaboration of family and friends required to ensure their future success and the overall emotion of achieving the general equivalency diploma that would awaken in them a new reason for life. In the end, it would be the general equivalency diploma that would change them and the lives of their families forever.


The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.