The Impact of a Mentoring Program on Low-Income, High Achieving Students and Their Possibility of Enrolling in a Four-Year College or University
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The purpose of this sequential exploratory mixed-methods study was to explore the perceptions of low-income, high achieving students participating in a school-based mentoring program as they related to the needs of these students regarding post-secondary preparedness. A stratified random sample of 40 low-income, high achieving students was selected to participate in the study. The sample consisted of 10 freshmen, 10 sophomores, 10 juniors, and 10 seniors. From this sample of 40, three students from each grade level were randomly selected to participate in focus group interviews. There were four interview sessions conducted by grade level. Data for the qualitative strand were collected using focus group interviews. Interview questions focused on student perceptions of the current mentoring program. Quantitative strand data were collected from the curriculum that was implemented. All 40 participants completed a Student Perception Survey before and after the implementation of the curriculum to determine any changes in college-going behavior or perceived level of preparedness. The qualitative data were analyzed using Creswell’s six generic steps approach to analyzing qualitative data. The quantitative data were analyzed using SPSS. The qualitative data revealed four benefit themes which were notifications, careers, comfort, and academic preparedness. The data also revealed four need themes including finances, cost of attendance, location of schools, researching schools, and frequency of meetings. The quantitative data revealed a significant increase in the number of students planning to attend a four-year university and a significant increase in perceived level of post-secondary preparedness after exposure to the curriculum. However, males were more likely to attend a four-year university than females. The findings suggest the current mentoring program needs to include more female role models in post-secondary pathways.