Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

Tara L. Parker

Second Advisor

Samuel D. Museus

Third Advisor

Joan Becker


College access programs like Upward Bound have been found to build social capital among a target population, stimulate academic preparedness, and increase a student's knowledge of the college decision process. However, little research is available that establishes the points during the college decision process at which college access programs have the most impact. Furthermore, little is known how college access programs like Upward Bound build social capital and what the components or characteristics are that increase social capital. This qualitative case study explored the components of Upward Bound that increase a student's social capital and determined how these components increased social capital. The findings show that while there were many aspects of Upward Bound that had a positive influence on students: the summer program, taking courses that prepared them for the upcoming term, the tutoring, and the bond they formed with other students in the program, these components alone did not necessarily increase a student's social capital. My findings suggest that there was one underlying aspect of Upward Bound that contributed to the formation of social capital, the knowledge of the college process, and the ability of students to envision themselves as college students. This was the close, caring, supportive relationship formed between staff and student. My findings also suggest that predisposition to college is much broader and elements of the search stage influence a student's predisposition. Instead of a linear process, the decision seems to be much more iterative. While students interviewed explained that their decision to go to college was made prior to their involvement in Upward Bound, the students also stated that the program showed them the importance of a college education, increased their enthusiasm and desire for a college education, and gave them confidence by preparing them academically and developmentally. Throughout the college decision process, the supportive, encouraging relationships between staff and students increased a student's confidence and influenced a student's self-actualization, or their ability to see themselves as college students.


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