Department of Educational Administration


Date of this Version



A dissertation presented to the Faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Major: Educational Studies (Educational Leadership and Higher Education). Under the supervision of Professor Brent Cejda. Lincoln, Nebraska, May 2013. Copyright 2013, Jill Walahoski. Used by permission.


This mixed methods case study was designed to assess the preparedness of former Nebraska 4-H participants to successfully transition and adjust to college. The study also sought to understand the way that students’ experiences in Nebraska 4-H may have influenced their readiness to transition to college. The initial quantitative stage of this case study administered the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire to former 4-H participants who were recent high school graduates. Latter qualitative stages included interviews with staff regarding the practices and strategies they employed related to preparing young people for college and interviews with former 4-H participants selected from the survey sample.

The results of the quantitative analysis indicated that generally, former 4-H participants reported a positive adaptation to college. Significant differences were found between the variable groups or with the influence of the covariate in the clusters of (a) Attachment: This College; (b) Personal and Emotional Adjustment: Psychological; (c) Personal and Emotional Adjustment: Physical; (d) Social Adjustment: General; and (e) Social Adjustment: Social Environment. Student’s reporting different engagement levels in 4-H reported significant differences in their attachment to college and in their general social adjustment to college.

The qualitative analysis discovered that staff and former 4-H participants both credit the cumulative 4-H experience and the multiple opportunities to explore interests, potential career areas and colleges as influential in the preparing young people for the transition to college. Additionally, both groups recognize that 4-H results in skill development relevant to a successful transition to college, especially networking, public speaking, and independence. Ultimately, the findings in this study indicate that the Nebraska 4-H experience positively contributes to the college readiness equation for its participants. Implications for nonformal youth development and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Adviser: Brent Cejda.