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Christian universities are generally tuition-driven and thus enrollment dependent. This is true of the Seventh-day Adventist higher education system as well.Previous research on Seventh-day Adventist university enrollment revealed and underrepresentation of graduates from public high schools in comparison to graduates of Christian high schools. The purpose of this study was to develop a working theory to explain how graduates of public high schools successfully transition into Adventist universities. Using a pragmatic grounded theory design, we interviewed 18 participants who had experienced such a transition. Progressing in a constant-comparative manner, research team members analyzed the interviews through multiple rounds and types of coding. The resultant theory, Adventist Higher Education TransitionTheory,consists of a three-dimensional matrix of theoretical components. This paper focuses on the first dimension of thismatrix,a five-step developmental pathwaytypically followed by public high school graduates astheymatriculate at an Adventist university. The markers along this developmental pathway include Attractors, Adjustors, Detractors, Transitional Tasks, and Anchors. We constructed this substantive theoryusing language that transcends the specificity of its Adventist origins while remaining true to the study context. Thus, our theory approaches the stature of substantive theory of transition into Christian higher education, although additional data collection and analysis is required for verification.However, readers,based on their background, can identify implications from this theory for transition into other systems of Christian higher education,transition into Faith-based higher education, or transition into higher education generally.


Paper presented at the 2017 AHSRA meetings, Loma Linda, California

First Department

Teaching, Learning and Curriculum

Second Department



Funding for this project was provided by the Association of Adventist Colleges and Universities and the Andrews University School of Education.