In-Between: Late-Arriving Teens in Adult Education Programs Navigating Child and Adult Immigrant Narratives

Dina Birman, Ashmeet K. Oberoi, Maria Fernanda Garcia, Miryam Haarlammert, Massiel Leiva, Alexandra Lane, Caroline Culbreth, Hanna Taylor, Andrea Ruiz-Sorrentini, Edison J. Trickett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We report on a grounded theory study of late-arriving immigrant youth (LIY) who arrived in the United States at 16–18 years of age and were referred to daytime General Education Diploma (D-GED) programs. These programs provide an alternate path to a high school diploma for youth with insufficient knowledge of English to complete graduation requirements before turning 19 years. Based on interviews with 38 youth from Latin America, we propose the core category of our grounded theory to be students Navigating Child and Adult Immigrant Narratives while making educational and career decisions. This process begins before immigration when youth imagine ambitious alternate selves—ideal educational and career selves in the United States, consistent with the American Dream and immigrant child narrative. The D-GED programs represent a compromise between a child and adult educational pathway. Students in these programs felt excluded from the regular high school but received social and emotional support while on a faster track to graduation and self-sufficiency as adults. However, students lacked concrete information and roadmaps for how to attain their ambitious goals. The study highlights the unique challenges faced by LIY as they develop ambitious and realistic education and career goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Latinos (United States)
  • college issues
  • education/school
  • immigration issues (includes acculturation, language acquisitions, etc.)
  • qualitative methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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