Date of Award

Winter 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership

Committee Director

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Shana L. Pribesh

Committee Member

Patrick Tompkins


At the community college level, a debated policy is whether to keep the option for late registration. Most colleges define late registration as registration that occurs any time after the first day of the semester (O’Banion, 2012). Some community colleges have opted to eliminate late registration, believing, based on previous studies, that late registration is a barrier to students and their success (Bolt, 2013; Hale & Bray, 2011; Jones, 2015; Smith, Street, & Olivarez, 2002; Weiss, 1999). Others assert late registration remain an option maintaining that the open access designation associated with the community college demands that students not be deterred from attending when that decision to attend is made (Fain, 2014; O’Banion, 2012). After years of debate, there is no consensus on what is most beneficial for students and colleges. This study contributes to the knowledge on late registration and more specifically focuses on perceptions of what happens once a late registration policy is eliminated.

This qualitative study, utilizing the phenomenological approach, explored the implications of eliminating late registration at four community colleges located in four states across the United States; each institution eliminated the late registration option within the last five years (2012-2017). The study allowed college leaders (presidents, vice presidents, deans, department chairs, and registrars) and instructional staff (faculty and advisors) to provide up-to-date perspectives on the impact of the policy elimination.

After data collection and explication, several themes emerged and were organized by research question. Generally speaking, for the four colleges included in this study, the elimination of the late registration option has not been identified as a major agent for change. College leaders and instructional staff were unable to isolate data that showed student success being positively impacted by the elimination of the late registration option. In fact, three of the four colleges included, according to interview participants, had not looked at the data since the change in policy. Instructional staff were unable to describe any positive, significant changes in their positions as a result of this policy.