Overcoming Obstacles to Preparing for College: Perspectives from a Rural Upward Bound Program

Andre Grimard, John Maddaus


This research study examines the major obstacles low-income rural youth face in preparing to attend college and how to overcome these obstacles through the participation in an Upward Bound program. The data for this study are from a single-site of the regular (“Classic”) Upward Bound program at a public university in a rural New England state and include surveys and interviews with students, guidance counselors, and parents and/or guardians of Upward Bound students. The results of this study indicated that there are two primary barriers that low-income rural students face in preparing for college: financial and social. Students and parents considered applying to the program not only for academic reasons but also for financial and social reasons. Once enrolled in the program, rural students began to benefit academically, financially, and socially. The retention rate at this public  university is significantly higher than the national retention rate reported by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. Several recommendations for practice for rural Upward Bound programs and high schools serving rural Upward Bound-eligible students are included.


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