Date of Conferral







Alice Eichholz


As evidence of the continuing attainment gap, students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds have a lower enrollment and completion rate in higher education. Although studies have documented that mentoring programs have the capability to address a variety of problems these students may face in completing college, there appeared to be limited research on examining their experiences in mentoring programs at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to understand the mentoring experiences of formerly at-risk, HBCU, undergraduate alumni. Astin’s theory of student involvement and Tinto’s theory of student retention provided the framework for understanding the undergraduate mentoring experiences of 9 HBCU alumni. Purposeful sampling was used to select the participants to be interviewed. Participants’ interview responses were analyzed and hand coded manually. From analysis of the results, 5 themes emerged: support during transition to college, mentoring guidance, development of relationships, the ability to address personal goals, and development of professional skills for future success. The participants described their mentoring experience as an integral component in their academic and social involvement and overcoming barriers to enrolling in college and earning a college degree. This study may provide insight that administrators may use to implement institutional policies for developing mentoring programs to reduce barriers to at-risk students’ college success.