Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Hu, Xiaodan

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling and Higher Education (CAHE)


First-generation and/or low-income families have a difficult time navigating the college-going process. These families have daily obstacles that make preparing and entering post-secondary education challenging, including family trauma, financial hardships, decision-making skills, and lack of knowledge regarding college-going strategies. The purpose of this study is to uncover what specific support tools low-income and/or first-generation families participating in the Danielsville College TRIO Upward Bound program need as they support their students through the college-going process at Hinley Park High School. This qualitative study utilized a research methodology case study approach to understand the lived experiences of fifteen participants (one student, three program alum, and 11 parent(s)/legal guardians). Interview participants had been engaged with the program since the beginning of 2017.

The interviews followed the semi-structured interview protocol, which is a strategy of asking participants a series of predetermined but open-ended questions. The data was analyzed using vivo/first cycle coding, second cycle/pattern codes, and analytic memoing. The findings of this study showed that the participating families have a desire to persist towards college but they need extra support and resources. Seven themes emerged from the research study: (1) Family Trauma, (2) Safety Concerns, (3) Financial Hardships, (4) Family Support/Motivation, (5) College Resources/Information, (6) Life Skills, and (7) Support from TRIO Upward Bound. These themes indicated the perceived barriers, life experiences, needs, and support received as the participants' trench through the college going-process. The study also revealed that the Danielsville College TRIO Upward Bound program is/was instrumental in the preparation for entry into post-secondary education.


146 pages




Northern Illinois University

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