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This article presents the life histories of two “nontraditional” college students—Demetrius and Christine—as a means to explore the concept of “outsiderness” and its impact on undergraduate student success. Through multiple interviews and observations conducted over the course of a full year, the article first outlines the life circumstances that compelled both students to leave formal education during adolescence. Then, the article details how Demetrius and Christine managed to return to college despite formidable personal and financial challenges. Although both students demonstrate tremendous promise in their college-level coursework, they are wary of their own college readiness, primarily due to their “nontraditional” educational trajectories and a lack of clarity about instructors’ expectations. Hence, the article concludes by considering the forms of support that might help similar nontraditional students succeed in first-year coursework, and eventually graduate from college


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  • Institution
    • Gainesville

  • Publisher
    • Sage

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Book or Journal Information:

      Qualitative Inquiry