Graduate Program

College Student Affairs

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Catherine L. Polydore


This study employed phenomenology to explore at-risk African American male first-generation students' experiences in the TRiO Student Support Services Program (TRiO) and the role they perceived it played in their college success. Participants were six upperclassmen who were interviewed about their overall college experience, the challenges that they faced, and the role that TRiO played in helping them overcome those obstacles. Data were interpreted within a cultural capital theoretical framework, as well as, Schlossberg's Transition Theory. Findings indicated that the risk factors influencing African American male first-generation student's college experience are challenges with academics, finances, culture, and social integration. Although these risk factors can contribute to negative experiences for African American males, the participants have indicated that the support and services provided by the TRiO program has led them to continue to persist towards college completion.