Graduate Program

College Student Affairs

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Catherine L. Polydore

Thesis Committee Member

Mona Y. Davenport

Thesis Committee Member

Shawn D. Peoples


The study examined the educational, psychological, and social factors both favorable and unfavorable that impact Black students access to college. Participants consisted of a combination of undergraduate and graduate students from either a mid-size or large Midwestern institution of higher education. A qualitative approach was taken through focus groups to collect data. The findings reported students have feelings of preparedness and underpreparedness for college regarding educational factors; feelings of discrimination/racism, feelings of White counterparts being better prepared, feelings of competitive motivation to excel, and feelings of unpreparedness for ACT regarding psychological factors; and lastly regarding social factors participants reported feelings of lack of family support, feelings of family support, feelings of socioeconomic status influencing college access, and feelings of college preparatory influencing college preparedness. The study concluded that mentorship on how to navigate the college application process, college preparatory programs, and college preparation based curriculum in high school increases college access for Black students. The lack of these resources hindered students' preparedness and the cultural capital needed to matriculate through the higher education system.