Document Type



Doctor of Education


Educational Practice

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Shawn Woodhouse


Shawn Woodhouse

Jennifer Simms

Thomasina Hassler


College access programs provide middle and high school students with essential skills to prepare them for a successful transition to postsecondary education. TRIO Talent Search (TS) and Upward Bound (UB) are federally funded programs established to strengthen the likelihood that students from underserved groups will graduate high school and pursue higher education. Both programs offer support to low-income and first-generation students to ensure equitable access to higher education. While these programs offer a holistic approach to student development, including personal and professional support, some students from underserved groups experience challenges during the summer months that prevent them from enrolling in college during the fall following high school graduation.

Summer melt raises concerns about the impact of TRIO TS and UB programs and their effectiveness in supporting low-income and first-generation students to help mitigate barriers and increase college attendance during the fall following high school graduation. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to examine the barriers that contributed to summer melt for TRIO TS and UB alumni at Midwest University. This study utilized purposeful sampling and snowball sampling to recruit 13 alumni from the TS and UB programs at Midwest University to understand the barriers that may have impacted their decision to attend or postpone college in the fall following high school completion. Conley’s college readiness theory and Schlossberg’s transition theory were the frameworks used to understand the barriers these students may have encountered, which impacted their transition from high school to college.

Data from this study adds to the scholarly research regarding the barriers that contribute to summer melt for TS and UB participants. In addition, the findings of this study can be used to inform institutional leaders, TRIO staff, and other stakeholders of ways to enhance TRIO TS and UB programs to decrease the percentage of students impacted by summer melt.