Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Shirley A. Freed

Second Advisor

Duane M. Covrig

Third Advisor

Mario Borelli



The purpose of this study was to examine how academically successful Upward Bound students overcome the barriers to high-school graduation. While Upward Bound students come from disadvantaged backgrounds, similar to those of many students who fail to graduate from high school, 90% of them graduate.


The research design for this study was Padilla‘s Student Success Model (SSM). Student Success Model (SSM) is a qualitative technique to portray successful student methods by capturing the perceived reality of the particular students being studied.


In response to the first research question—What do students and staff perceive to be the barriers to successful completion of high school?—the primary barriers identified by the Upward Bound students and staff from all three programs were lack of motivation, peer pressure, and family responsibilities. In response to the second research question—What do the student and staff identify as the knowledge and actions for overcoming the barriers that successful students encounter?—the primary knowledge the students and staff identified were a sense of self and high standards; the primary actions they identified were initiative and priorities.


Upward Bound students and staff agree that successful students are able to overcome barriers they encounter because they have a strong sense of self and high standards. They combat the barriers they encounter using their ability to take initiative and to prioritize their educational responsibilities. These characteristics and abilities depicted in this study are influenced by the social and cultural capital the students acquire through their participation in Upward Bound‘s programs and use of the services provided by the staff. In addition, acquirement of those two forms of capital also builds within the Upward Bound students the ability to be resilient against the various barriers they encounter during their high-school years.

Subject Area

Academic achievement--Indiana, Motivation in education--Indiana, Education, Secondary--Indiana.