Department of Educational Administration


Date of this Version


Document Type



Upp, K. M. (2014). Capturing awareness: The perception of higher education at an at-risk, urban middle school (Master's thesis).


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska For Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Educational Administration, Under the Supervision of Professor Debra Mullen. Lincoln, Nebraska: May 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Kristen Marie Upp


The purpose of this study is to understand at-risk, urban middle school students’ perceptions of higher education through the minds of young students from a diverse, inner city schooling background. This study sought to understand barriers preventing students from attending college and the positive contributing factors encouraging them to do so. Written interviews were conducted in an 8th grade urban middle school in the southern United States.

One hundred five (105) students voluntarily participated in the research study, writing their thoughts pertaining to higher education and their feelings on the topic. The following themes were found: Family Involvement, Financial Burden, Need for a Degree, Better Self/Give Back, and The Experience.

By better interpreting the perception a student has, professionals in the higher education setting can focus on implementations to ensure that all students are provided a fair opportunity to pursue a college experience, a career, and a life. This is a personal approach to make aware a vision of college access.

Advisor: Debra Mullen