Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Higher Education Policy and Student Affairs

Committee Chairperson

John Elmore, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dana Morrison, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jacqueline S. Hodes, Ed.D.


This thesis will explore the barriers that cause a lack of access to higher education for low-income and working-class students. My own experience as a working-class, firstgeneration college student has had a direct influence on my interest and exploration of this concern. There are four specific barriers highlighted within this thesis: discrepancies in education at the primary and secondary level, lack of familial knowledge, economic disparities, and a phenomenon known as summer melt. I believe that higher education should be a given right so that one can develop one’s ontological vocation. I utilize philosophers and theorists such as Paulo Friere (1989), Christopher Newfield (2016), John Dewey (1916), and Michael Oakeshott (2004) in order to support my perspective. Through critical action research I have designed a programmatic intervention called Building Bridges to address the barriers mentioned. Building Bridges is a peer mentoring program that is coupled with monthly family seminars in order to bridge the knowledge gap of college access.

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Education Commons