Nontraditional Trio Student Support Services Students

Subject: Education
Pages: 4
Words: 1099
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: PhD


TRIO programs refer to various federal government initiatives that are created to improve the post-high school educational attainment, and, fulfillment of the economically and physically disadvantaged students. These are usually students who are not in a position to follow the rather traditional approach of joining institutions of higher learning immediately after high school. The main objective of the TRIO programs is to capitalize on diversifying educational opportunities of students who are faced with the predicament of dealing with barriers to achieving higher education (US Department of Education, 2011).

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Through these programs, the federal government has been able to launch various projects that are in line with TRIO objectives. The first program to be launched was Upbound which was set up as a prerequisite of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to eradicate poverty among US citizens. The second program to be launched was the Talent Search initiative whose main agenda was to identify and support students from underprivileged backgrounds to follow through with their higher education ambitions by providing them with financial and career counseling support.

The Third TRIO project which is the main focus for this study, the Student Support Services program (SSS) was launched in 1968 after renaming the initial project which was referred to as Special Services for Disadvantaged Students. This project grants funds to institutions of higher learning to provide viable opportunities for disadvantaged students who are disabled, reign from low-income families, or are first-generation college students (Perez, 2007).

Through this fund, the nontraditional students are able to access academic tutoring, career advice, and motivation to ensure that they successfully complete their post-high school education. The program is also keen on ensuring that students who are under foster care or homeless are mentored and provided with temporary housing during school breaks (US Department of Education, 2011). The main purpose of this project is to impart persistence and improve the retentions levels of disadvantaged students (Perez, 2007).

Current status of TRIO programs

To further foster the mandate of the TRIO programs, various initiatives under the TRIO umbrella have also emerged to provide a wide variety of services and support systems that sustain and improve on the previous projects. All this is intended to reach and assist more disadvantaged students in persisting and attaining a basic college degree (US Department of Education, 2011).

As of 2002, the US government reported that TRIO programs had progressed tremendously over the years and thus impacting positively on the needs of the people and the economic stance of the nation. The government also reported that the income levels attributed to attainment of post-secondary education had risen thus, reducing the poverty level of each household from 18,100$ for a family of four to 27,150$ in 2002. Further, the country has more than 1750 TRIO programs that support more than 700,000 disadvantaged students that makeup 54% of the minority population that is in dire need of tertiary education sustenance.

The Student Support Services initiative has also made major strides in improving the graduation rates of disadvantaged students through its more than 700 projects that target 165,000 tertiary colleges all over the US (United States Commission on Civil Rights, 2002).

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Research overview

Theoretically, this research work falls under the education sector as it strives to improve the education levels through evaluating and understanding the involvement and persistence of Nontraditional TRIO Student Support Services Students. More importantly, the study strives to highlight the importance of incorporating educational leadership theories in order to increase the retention rates of students. This will ensure that, a majority of marginalized students in terms of economic, social and disability status are able to graduate from higher learning institutions. The study also highlights the need to acknowledge that gaining access to institutions of higher learning is not a guarantee that disadvantaged students complete their studies thus highlighting the emerging issues towards the actualization of the Students Support Service TRIO program (Thomas, Cooper & Quinn, 2003).

How proposed research fits with other research in the field

This research work is relevant to the US tertiary education system as it tries to analyze some of the issues that are affecting the retention levels of such institutions. With reference to other research findings that have dwelt on the same subject, this research work will build on already gathered information to evaluate the performance and sustainability of the Student Support Services initiative. For instance, a study conducted by Denise Myers in 2003 on the success of college programs found out that SSS improved the number of graduate students. However, this study did not highlight the level of involvement and persistence of students involved in the SSS program an aspect that this research work will dwell on (Myers, 2003).

Further, the findings of this research work will provide a basis for comparison. This is because its core objective of finding out the involvement and persistence of students involved in the SSS program is in line with a similar study conducted by David Fike and Renea Fike in 2008 in their quest to predict the student’s retentions level, with particular emphasis on student’s persistence in the system (S.Fike & R. Fike, 2008).

Issues, perspectives, and controversies in this field

Wallingford (2009) argues that, apart from the minimal retention rates, some of the major issues facing the SSS program actualization include the organizational culture and the leadership styles of institutions of higher learning. According to Wallingford (2009), these two factors have a great bearing on influencing the attitudes of students within the program or those contemplating joining the program.

In this particular field of research, various authors have highlighted that to understand the significance and the success of the SSS program, it will be vital to look at various perspectives that contribute to the level of participation and involvement of SSS program beneficiaries. Among the various perspectives mentioned, retention rates have been consistently prominent thus, emphasizing the importance of maintaining the level of student enrollment and graduation from intuitions of higher learning. Further theoretical perspectives of persistent and academic success through the use of theoretical models are vital in this research work (Perez, 2007).

Some of the controversies facing the SSS program include its incapacity to cater to the whole country. This is attributed to the fact that some of its programs are limited to specific areas thus depriving a majority of students who are eligible for the program from participating and benefiting from the program. Further, it is reported that some students participate in the program for many years, therefore, limiting the government’s capacity to enroll new needy students (United States Commission on Civil Rights, 2002).


  1. Fike, S. D., & Fike, R. (2008). Predictions of first-year student retention in the community college. Community College Review, 36(2), 68-88.
  2. Myers, D. R. (2003).College Success Programs.
  3. Perez, F. (2007). Predicting persistence among first-generation students: Does participation in students support services make a difference? Michigan: ProQuest LLC.
  4. Thomas, E., Cooper, M., & Quinn, J. (Eds.). (2003). Improving completion rates among disadvantaged students. London: Trentham Books Limited.
  5. United States Commission on Civil Rights. (2002). Beyond percentage plans: the challenge of equal opportunity in higher education. Pennsylvania: Diane Publishing.
  6. United States Department of Education. (2011). History of the Federal TRIO Programs. Web.
  7. Wallingford, V. (2009). Assessing TRIO/Student Support Services leadership, institutional structure. Michigan: ProQuest LLC.