Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Molina, Danielle K.

Committee Member

Dickerson, John R.

Committee Member

Justice, Cheryl A.

Committee Member

Moyen, Eric A.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only


Educational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Education


Department of Educational Leadership


“College Readiness” has been a phrase discussed across higher education and the workforce in most recent years. However, the perception of College Readiness has been debated throughout history as there is not a universal agreement on the philosophy of what it means to be College Ready. In Mississippi, the state has not even defined this phrase so there is not a way to measure the success of College Readiness. Because of this lack of universal philosophy, the purpose of this study is to understand the philosophy of college readiness programs in the state of Mississippi. The research question guiding this study will include: How do different stakeholders assigned to align college readiness programs between P-12 and postsecondary systems understand the philosophy of college readiness? Moreover, what influences the beliefs that shape philosophies about college readiness held by these stakeholders? Leaning on research from Thelin (2004), Conley (2007), and the Ecological Model of College Readiness as designed by Arnold et al. (2012), the literature review synthesizes research on the history of college readiness in American Higher Education, the definitions of College Readiness, and the most widely accepted conceptual framework to explain the factors that influence College Readiness among students. The design of this study included a qualitative comparative analysis and used focus groups to collect data from the perspectives of 16 directors or coordinators who are responsible for organizing or implementing college readiness programs across the state of Mississippi. As a result, the theme from the participant responses supported the consensus that college readiness is a complex and undefined phrase. However, each participant agreed that to be college ready, students need to have more than academic readiness. Instead, students must also have individual characteristics that yearn for a plan after high school. Another conclusion made was that college readiness is influenced by the students’ surroundings including people and politics. While the most current conceptual framework helps identify factors that influence college readiness, it does not precisely identify the relationships among the different layers or help explain when a student becomes college ready. Therefore, additional research should be conducted to determine the stages by which students pass through to become college ready.