An Investigation of the Factors Contributing to Tennessee Promise Use and College Choice Among High School Seniors At a Rural High School in Northeast Tennessee.
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the factors contributing to Tennessee Promise use and college choice among high school seniors at a Rural High School in Northeast Tennessee. The sample consisted of twelve recent high school graduates from the rural school used in this study. The participant interviews were semi-structured with open-ended questions to allow participants to share their personal experiences. The researcher designed interview questions to; (a) understand perceptions of the Tennessee Promise scholarship; (b) determine if the Tennessee Promise scholarship was being used upon graduation; (c) determine any barriers preventing participants from accessing the scholarship; (d) determine what factors played a role in the decision-making process of the study participants. Data were analyzed using inductive analysis process. The results yielded the following themes: a) the Tennessee Promise Scholarship is being used by recent graduates from the county school used for this study, b) the TN Promise fills a financial need amongst participants, c) the application process and program requirements can be too burdensome for some students, d) a connection between Career and Technical Education Programs and the Tennessee Promise, e) a preference of four-year institutions over two-year institutions, f) the vital role school counselor’s play in preparing high school students to pursue their post-secondary goals. The results suggest that schools target students no later than the beginning of their junior year in high school regarding available post-secondary opportunities. This information process will enable the students to understand the academic, social, and cost differences between two-year and four-year institutions. Future research should use larger populations and include both rural and urban schools to determine college choice factors.