Publication Date

Spring 2019

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Janet Tassell (Director), Gary Houchens, and Antony D. Norman

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


The purpose of this research was to study the perceptions of school counselors regarding the impact of the school counseling program, interventions, and other strategies to help at-risk learners persist to graduate. A qualitative research design employing an interpretive phenomenological analysis methodology was used. Semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions allowed the respondents to share insights into the thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of their individual experiences as school counselors. The results suggest students with various risk factors choose not to persist to graduate, transferring to homeschool or withdrawing from school as a dropout. Academic deficiency, severe misbehavior, poor attendance, and social challenges were found to impact persistence to graduation. Educators must strategically develop programs, policies, and actions to promote persistence to graduation. School counselors play an integral role in the academic, social, and career development of students, serving in a position to identify students who are not successful in school and provide an array of support services to strengthen students’ desire to remain in school.


Educational Leadership | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration | Student Counseling and Personnel Services