First Advisor

Erna Gelles

Term of Graduation

Summer 2008

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Administration and Policy


Public Administration




Higher education accessibility -- Oregon, Mentoring in education -- Oregon, Scholarships -- Oregon



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, viii, 241 pages)


Despite four decades of national policy interventions, equal access to postsecondary education has not been achieved. Though gains have been made, students of color, low-income students, and first generation students are still excluded from postsecondary participation. Early intervention programs and privately funded scholarships are among the many public and private voluntary responses to this problem.

Oregon's state-supported, school-based, volunteer mentoring program for equalizing postsecondary opportunities grew out of a long-standing partnership between a state administrative agency and statewide community foundation. Key program features reflect its origin: open eligibility for any student who wants to participate and reliance on a primary workforce of volunteer mentors. With goals to serve all students, program administrators and policy makers ask, who benefits?

Evaluating the program's goal to teach students and families about scholarships and other postsecondary financing options, this study (1) compared scholarship applicants from high schools with the mentoring program to applicants from schools without; (2) examined individual and school-level barriers to postsecondary access as predictors of applicants' likelihood of receiving an award or choice of postsecondary institution; and (3) examined changes over time in the size and composition of schools' applicant and recipient pools before and after adopting the program.

Findings indicate that scholarship applicants from program schools had lower family income, lower parent education, and lower indicators of academic achievement. Applicants from program schools were more likely to receive an award, though interpreting differences in their postsecondary choice is yet unclear. After schools adopted the program, the rate that their twelfth graders applied for and received scholarships increased over time. School applicant pools changed to reflect more applicants from traditionally excluded groups. The study concludes the program is having its intended effects.


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