Examining the Role of Parent Involvement in College Access for Low-Income Students: A Mixed Methods Study of the FUEL Program

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Examining the Role of Parent Involvement in College Access for Low-Income Students: A Mixed Methods Study of the FUEL Program

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Title: Examining the Role of Parent Involvement in College Access for Low-Income Students: A Mixed Methods Study of the FUEL Program
Author: Hashmi, Jodut
Citation: Hashmi, Jodut. 2015. Examining the Role of Parent Involvement in College Access for Low-Income Students: A Mixed Methods Study of the FUEL Program. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
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Abstract: In this dissertation, I examine how one college access program, Families United in Educational Leadership (FUEL), utilizes parents as a strategy to encourage college preparation among low-income students. FUEL serves 500 low-income families in seven sites around Boston by employing a savings incentive plan to help parents of high school students save up to $3,000 for their children’s college education. It also provides parents with information through monthly workshops about how they and their children can prepare for college. Research has shown that parents can play a key role in developing their children’s college aspirations, encouraging their academic preparation, providing financial resources, and accessing postsecondary supports, all of which influence college enrollment (Hossler & Gallagher, 1987; Adelman, 1999; Choy, 2002; Tierney & Auerbach, 2005; ACSFA, 2008; Hill & Tyson, 2009). Unlike FUEL, many college access initiatives do not include parents in their efforts to encourage college preparation among the students they serve (Tierney & Auerbach, 2005), and so FUEL has provided a context in which to investigate parental involvement within a college access program.
In this study, I examined 1) if and how the level of parent knowledge about college preparation changes after participating in FUEL; 2) how parents make sense of their experiences with FUEL and how they use the information learned; and 3) students’ perceptions of their parents’ involvement in FUEL. The research project took place over one academic year at Chelsea High School in Chelsea, Massachusetts. My analysis of data indicate that FUEL encouraged behavior among families to prepare for college; increased college-going expectations among parents; made the college preparation process more manageable by offering extensive and organized information about college choice and financial aid, reminders about deadlines, and recommendations for other sources of guidance; positively impacted relationships between parents and children; and created an important support structure for participating families that altered their experiences with the college preparation process. These findings demonstrate the vital role that parents play in the college preparation process and describe key strategies used by FUEL that could be replicated by other college access efforts as they aim to expand college enrollment and success for low-income students and families.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:14121779
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