Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Douglas Lare, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Jennifer V. Rotigel, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Gene D. White, Ph.D.


At the intersection of college and work is a complex transition that graduates face every day. Expectations are often high that graduates will move quickly into a career of their choosing, a common measurement of success. Colleges and universities are often seen as having responsibility for helping ensure this success. Yet, for many graduates the transition is challenging. In addition to finding employment, graduates may have difficulty moving into a chosen career due to not seeing themselves as fully adult, and not having a strong sense of personal or professional identity. Self-efficacy is an important measure in this transition because it has been shown to be a predictor of workforce success. This mixed-method study sought to better understand the college to career transition experience of emerging adults and to explore the relationship between perceived adulthood and career transition self-efficacy. A total of 1,252 graduates from colleges and universities in Pennsylvania participated in the study and 10 participants were interviewed. The findings suggest that a more fully developed sense of adulthood is a predictor of career transition self-efficacy, as is attendance at a public university. In addition, the age of attendance at college was suggested to have a possible impact on the transition. In conclusion, this study is important because it aids in the understanding of the experience of the college to career transition. This study also shows that there are ways colleges and universities can support graduates through the transition process and shares specific practices for providing that support.