College outreach programs have been on the rise in the past couple of decades. They hope to help historically underrepresented students (first generation, low income, and minority) aspire to and prepare for higher education. However little research has been done on the effectiveness of these programs and more specifically which components are most effective for increasing student enrollment and retention. This study addresses this lack studying the effectiveness of social capital in college outreach programs, in an effort to move towards more evidence based research and practice. The study uses qualitative methods and in-depth interviews to directly investigate social capital in relation to a specific outreach program, The College Opportunity Program (COP). The specific research question addressed is what quality of social capital can outreach program participants access and how successful is the program in building trust within the network and helping their participants maximize their social capital to attain their educational goals? Three main themes emerge: being motivated, feeling comfortable, and being supported academically through friendship. These are important factors for program participants. Students do in fact have access to and utilize a form of high quality social capital, and the COP may in fact foster this process. The current findings will hopefully inform research and outreach programs of evidence based strategies.


Luis A. Posas

Committee Member

Vicki L. Hunter

Committee Member

Kellian Clark

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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