Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gyant, LaVerne

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling and Higher Education (CAHE)


This case study research focuses on community college TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) program initiatives and approaches to first-generation students’ success. The study interviewed students who attended a Midwest community college and participated in TRIO SSS programs to aid them in navigating the college going process to degree completion. The study also looks at how these first-generation students transitioned after college from the student perception and how they make meaning of being in TRIO SSS. While traditional advising has focused on aiding students with academic course requirements, TRIO SSS programs take a holistic advising approach to supporting the student both personally and academically. Holistic approach to student success takes into consideration not just students academics but cultural, social, financial, and personal well-being, which can affect their academic performance. This study will explore TRIO SSS alumni perception of how the program contributed to their ability to excel holistically, while aiding them in staying on track to graduation. This study also examines the resources students utilized to overcome challenges they faced while on their higher education journey. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten students who participated in TRIO SSS programs at community colleges in the Midwest. The insight from this study can be used to assist colleges in future planning of programs, activities, resources, and strategies geared towards holistically assisting first-generation students with persistence towards graduation who are non-TRIO SSS students. This research implies that contributing to first-generation student’s success goes beyond just providing access, traditional college advising, programming, and/or services. Institutions of Higher Education should focus on providing intentional collaborative methods that focus on a holistic approach to assist students with navigating critical life transition points by first obtaining the students perspective.


97 pages




Northern Illinois University

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In Copyright

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NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

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Included in

Education Commons