We Got Ya’ll!: A Qualitative Study Examining the College Access Experience of High School Graduates from Historically Underserved Communities

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Leadership for Organizations


Department of Educational Administration


Elizabeth Essex


The transition from high school to college is both scary and unfamiliar to each year’s new participants. For high school students attending school in underserved communities, this transition can be lonely and often inaccessible. To combat this, nonprofits and other community organizations provide additional support services to students during this process. Music Through the Streets’ goal is to determine the barriers these students may experience when accessing post-secondary education opportunities. This study employed a qualitative narrative analysis to better understand the lived experiences of recentered professionals. Purposive sampling was conducted to gather participants for semi-structured small-group interviews. Participants discussed their life experiences and recall their post-high school transition experiences through a guided conversation. An inductive method of data analysis was employed to detect themes and consistencies throughout each participant’s isolated experience. The four group interviews provided context for three main themes that were present in each interview: parental education as a barrier, interest in college, and community influence. The results of this study are vitally important to future Music Through the Streets program participants, as this will assist in guiding resource allocation, organization collaboration, and program design.


Underserved Youth, Historically Excluded Populations, Post-Secondary Education, Parental Involvement, College Preparation, historically underserved, routinely underserved, systemic educational barriers, student success, accessing college, urban development

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