Ed.D. Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


College of Education



Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.

Faculty Chair

Christopher Maddox, Ph.D.

Content Specialist

Jill Bonds, Ed.D.

Content Reader

Jill Williams, Ed.D.


marginalized, poverty, student of color, first-generation, success


The transition between high school and college is inconsistent and uncertain. Many marginalized students do not understand how to seek out assistance without guidance and mentorship. Although the number of marginalized college students enrolled in 4-year colleges in the United States is growing, many marginalized college students struggle to find and maintain a sense of stability during their first 2 years of college. The problem is marginalized students do not utilize the assistance offered to them or they do not know how to ask for help. The purpose of this basic qualitative research study is to explore what impacts marginalized students’ ability to succeed during their freshman and sophomore years of college. In order for change to happen all levels of leadership amongst colleges should acknowledge the issues and strive to answer questions such as: What support systems and resources are available to increase success? How do marginalized students become aware and utilize support systems during their freshman and sophomore years in college? In this basic qualitative research study 11 participants who graduated in 2015 or 2016 from the same high school in the Pacific Northwest Region of the U.S. participated in a confidential Qualtrics survey responding to questions about their experiences at a 4-year college during their first 2 years of college. Of the participants, 91% stated one of the substantial obstacles they faced when transitioning from high school to college was a lack of intentional mentorship. As the number of marginalized students in college continues to grow, the necessity for relative mentorship will continue to increase, which means 4-year colleges in the U.S. should consider finding ways to empower marginalized students with intentional and useful mentorship to sustain their education towards earning a bachelor’s degree.

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