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Bridging the gap: the role of outreach programs in granting college access to first generation students.


REACH Business Camp is an initiative by the College of Business and Public Management at the University of La Verne with a clear vision of reaching out to first generation, underserved junior high school students. The objective of this program is to put college within the reach of any student no matter how unattainable a goal it may seem, by giving them a taste of college life and study with dormitory stay, targeted, extra-curricular activities, and business classes instructed by the University's undergraduate and graduate business faculty. The choice of subject matter was determined by the pool of students electing to attend the program. That is, interested students indicated an existing interest in business studies but were not sure about acting on that interest due to lack of financial resources to attend college and/or not being familiar with the steps involved in successfully applying to colleges and for financial aid.

The program has gained a reputation of being among the best programs in motivating high school students to pursue college education as measured by the program's graduating students' inclinations to attend college (96% in 2007, 98% in 2008, 98% in 2009, and 98% in 2010), and by the demand to add more students from the existing, participating districts and other school districts who want to be part of it in the future.

Over the past 4 years more than 200 juniors from various Inland Southern California high schools participated in this three-week long program. Students were nominated by one or more of their school career counselors, teachers, assistant principles, or principles to participate in the program. Students were also interviewed by the program director to make sure they fit the program's criteria which included: (1) Students having shown an interest in business education but being at risk of not pursuing that interest at the university level; and (2) Students having the aptitude and discipline to pursue a university education (indicated by a grade point average of 2.5 or higher, and involvement in some extracurricular activities including service to the community or to school, but being discouraged because of (a) financial issues, (b) family commitments, and (c) not having considered attending university.


The program curriculum consisted of instruction in the areas of management and organization, marketing, economics, accounting and finance, business ethics, creating a business website, success skills, entrepreneurship, and environmental sustainability. Camp participants were also exposed to college Admissions and Financial Aid through two workshops delivered by 2 University of La Verne counselors; and two SAT sessions (one on English & one on Math).

The program also featured motivational speakers including the State of California Assembly member Norma Torres; the Mayor of the city of Ontario Mr. Paul Leon; the Chief Executive Officer of the Webb Family Enterprises (a franchise owner of 11 McDonald's restaurants in the Inland Valley region of Southern California) and the Chairperson of the Global Operator Leadership Council for the McDonalds Corporation Mr. Reggie Webb; the former Superintendent of Rialto Unified School District Ms. Edna Davis-Herring; the Chief Administrative Officer of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Mr. Gilbert Ivey, the President of the University of La Verne Dr. Steve Morgan; the Mayor of the city of La Verne Mr. Don Kendrick in addition to many other community and business leaders.

To achieve its goals and make the program entertaining, students participated in other extra- curricular activities including field trips to the Metropolitan Water District's "MWD" of Southern California's Weymouth treatment plant and Diamond Valley Lake; attended a concert at the Hollywood Bowl; watched a baseball game at the Quakes stadium; visited the Jet Propulsion Laboratory "JPL"; and spent a half a day at the Getty Museum. In addition, Program Management organized pre and post celebratory events for students and family members, which were well attended by community leaders, school officials, and business and civic leaders.

The Business Plan Competition: One of the Program's Highlights

As in previous years, program management staged a business plan competition among participating students. The primary goal of the business plan competition is for students to demonstrate that they are able to create economic opportunities for all members of the group and the surrounding community through the application of what they have learned during the program. All students worked in groups of five to apply knowledge gained from daily instruction by developing business plans, based on specific criteria, for creating sustainable and profitable businesses. These business plans were presented to a panel of judges composed of business and community leaders. Program management awarded a $1000 prize for the winning team while the runner-up received a $500 prize. Below is an explanation of the evaluation criteria used for this activity:

1. The project was economically feasible and the group demonstrated an understanding of how a market based economic system operates

2. The group demonstrated that they have the right education and skills to make the project successful in a dynamic and competitive economy.

3. The group demonstrated their ability to succeed as entrepreneurs. They demonstrated knowledge of how to organize and manage.

4. The group demonstrated the financial management abilities and skills they have acquired through the REACH Business Camp.

5. The group demonstrated their understanding and commitment to ethics and ethical values.

6. The group demonstrated their knowledge of how to market their business, including creating a viable website.

Members of the University of La Verne Students In Free Enterprise "SIFE" team served as mentors to the students and served as advisors for the participants' business plans. In addition, SIFE students helped provide unique learning opportunities about principles of free enterprise. They helped them learn to work both individually and as a group to develop and complete projects designed to teach the principles of a market economy at their level of understanding and appreciation. SIFE students were instrumental in helping REACH participants develop their ability to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills to real business situations; strengthen communication, team building, problem solving, and time management skills; improve written and oral presentation skills; use state-of-the-art presentation equipment; strengthen entrepreneurial and managerial skills; and improve ability to work in groups.

In 2007, Tom Marshall (the then editor of the Inland Valley News, a local newspaper) noted that while participating high school students did well during the three weeks' summer program, they showed appreciation for what they had learned, and they demonstrated a clear understanding of the principles of operating a business in a competitive environment.

Commencement with Powerful Speakers

Finally, a commencement was held for participating students on the last day of the program in the University's Sports Pavilion. More than 600 people each year attended this commencement, including community and civic leaders, business leaders, school officials, in addition to participating students' parents and family members. The commencement also featured a graduation speakers like Ms. Edna Davis-Herring, Superintendent of the Rialto Unified School District (2007); Mr. Reggie Webb, the CEO of the Webb Family Enterprise "also the National Chair of the McDonald Corporation's Leadership Council" (2008); Mr. Gilbert Ivey, the Chief Administrative Officer of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (2009); and Ms. Norma Torres, Assembly Member (2010). At graduation, certificates of graduation, certificates of achievements, and California State Assembly achievement certificates were given to students, and the winners of the business plans competition were announced and received their prizes.

In his speech to the students at the REACH opening breakfast in July 2010, Mr. Reggie Webb, the Chairperson of the Global Operator Leadership Council for the McDonalds Corporation expressed the importance of this program by saying:
   What REACH does is give students a chance to experience what it
   will be like in college ... it prepares them just not academically
   but mentally, spiritually and emotionally, which is everything it
   takes to get a degree ... to achieve success, you must tie your
   star to another star that is going somewhere ... everybody needs
   help at some point, you just can't do it yourself. You can't teach
   yourself things you don't know (Smith, 2010, p. A5).


This paper represents a follow-up study on former REACH Summer Business participants to examine participants' actual attendance of college as compared to their stated intentions to attend college when they were 11th graders. The targeted population was 118 high school juniors who participated in a three-week business camp in 2007 and 2008 that introduced them to various topics in business education. It is the purpose of this paper to determine whether REACH business camp can affect first generation students' decision to actually attend college in order to determine program applicability and effectiveness within said sample. Accordingly, this paper addresses the following research questions:

1. Is there a positive relationship between participation in the summer business camp and students' college attendance?

2. Is there a positive relationship between participation in the summer business camp and majoring in a business discipline?


Research indicates that while first generation students are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to entering and succeeding at college, with sufficient support, they can turn those disadvantages around (Jashik, 2005; Ellwood & Kane, 2000 as cited in Ghazzawi, 2010). One famous example is that of President Barack Obama who attended two Ivy League institutions and then went on to become America's first African-American President (The Associated Press, 2008 as cited in Ghazzawi, 2010).

Today, many institutions are reaching out to under-represented "mostly" first generation students through offering some form of a pre-engineering or math/science program with a goal to increase the enrollment and retention of members of the said group-for example, the University of Maryland Baltimore County, University of Akron, Bowling Green State University, and the University of La Verne, to name a few (Ghazzawi, 2010; Yelamarthi & Mawasha, 2008).

Increasingly, first-generation college student have come to the attention of researchers and academics alike as Colleges are reaching out to this demographic. One way in which they reach out is via specific outreach programs aimed at informing first-generation, low-income, and minority college-bound student about their college options. According to Pascarella, Wolniak, Pierson, & Terenzini, (2003), "first-generation students are at a disadvantage compared to their peers with respect to basic knowledge about postsecondary education, including: Higher education costs, application process, support, degree expectations and plans, and secondary school academic preparation" (as cited in Ghazzawi, 2010). In addition to this lack of knowledge about the mechanics of applying for and getting into college, these same students have problems making the academic transition from school systems that do not prepare them for what they will encounter in College (Rendon, Hope, & Associates, 1996; Terenzini, Rendon, Upcraft, Millar, Allison, Gregg, & Jalomo, 1994 as cited in Ghazzawi, 2010).

Apart from the above mentioned issues, according to Pike and Kuh (2005), in a study of 1,127 first-year students at various four-year colleges and universities, first-generation students are also far less likely to graduate from college precisely because they are the first in their families to attempt college. This leaves them without the family support that second and third-generation college attendees can take for granted (as cited in Ghazzawi, 2010). Therefore, as researchers gain a deeper understanding of the roadblocks that stand in the way of first-generation students successfully accessing a college education, more is being done to reach out to this population of students than ever before.

According to Hirsch (2008), US commitment to providing underserved students with avenues to college education is marked by the number of outreach programs to be found across the country. These programs may take the form of free or reduced tuition rates at well-endowed universities such as Amherst or Harvard, while at other colleges, like Clark University or the University of Massachusetts Boston, they may be in the form of partnerships with high schools or various types of bridge programs. Despite this abundance of avenues into colleges for underserved students, Hirsch (2008) argues that unless students successfully complete their degree programs, they will simply have taken on debt without the benefits of remunerative employment that a college degree can provide. Hirsch (2008) concludes that in the present global economy, successful completion of a college degree can make the difference between lifelong employment and penury, and calls for increased cooperation between all bodies involved in creating avenues to college for economically disadvantaged students.

Why Outreach Programs?

Researchers like Carlson (2009), Kroon, De Klerk, and Dippenaar, (2003) and White, (2006) have conducted longitudinal studies of the positive and long lasting effects of students who have attended outreach programs. For example, Carlson (2009) saw the long-term effects of a Junior Achievement curriculum entitled "Enterprise in Action." According to him, he was able to see how it influenced students who had participated in it well into their high school years (as cited in Ghazzawi, 2010). In addition, researchers like Curtin (2008) and Abbady (2008) can attest to the fact that first-generation students require help with the complexities of college application. In the case of Curtin, it was his parents who were that support, while Abbady argues that without savvy parents or friends to rely on, a first-generation student has little chance of successfully completing the complex run-up to entering college (as cited in Ghazzawi, 2010). In recognition of this fact, according to US Fed News Service (2008), universities like Wisconsin at Madison provide outreach for first-generation students by helping them with the application process and then by providing them with adequate tutoring resources throughout their years of study (as cited in Ghazzawi, 2010).

Recently, North Arkansas College in Harrison announced its recipient of $327,212 grant from the U.S. Department of Education grant to fund its Student Support Services program dedicated to providing academic and other support services to low-income, first-generation or disabled college students to help them stay in school, graduate and achieve academic success (U.S. Fed News Service, 2010). During the grant's announcement, Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas said: "College can open doors, put students on a path to success, and strengthen our nation's competitiveness, but first we must help students overcome any unique challenges that can stand in the way. These funds will help provide students with financial aid counseling, tutoring, and career guidance to ensure they receive the support they need to reach their full potential." (U.S. Fed News Service, 2010, para. 5). Similarly, the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut received a competitive $1.1 million five-year grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to help 140 undergraduates annually with extra tutoring and guidance. The grant provides $220,000 a year to fund a range of services aimed towards low-income, first-generation college students and students with disabilities boost their academic performance and successfully complete college (Lambeck, 2010).

Bourdieu (1977) argues that "because schools are institutions that are structured on a middle-class (or higher) orientation, middle-class families and their children understand the cultural and social nuances of how they operate" (as cited in Loza 2003, P. 46). This means that children not born into the middle and upper-middle classes need to learn the conventions or rules of the game if they are to succeed in the educational environment. In fact, research abounds indicating that social class impacts everything from teacher expectations to the physical conditions of each school (Loza, 2003). Similarly, Snell (2008) points out that when students are in college, "the majors being chosen, and the process by which students choose their majors, are all shaped by income, class, and education level" (as cited in Ghazzawi, 2010). Other factors that affect how student choose their colleges and majors are related to which majors will garner them gainful employment, meet parental approval or allow them to retain their circle of friends. Thus, while successful parents understand the role of college for future success and will prepare their children accordingly, parents with no college background may not have either the means or the knowledge to provide similar support to their children.

Kane (2001) argues that while college attendance stands at 80% for students from the middle and upper middle classes, only 57% of students from the lower middle classes actually attend college (Ghazzawi & Jagannathan, 2008). In addition, Ellwood and Cane (2000) indicate that "enrollment gaps based on family income have been widening over time" (as cited in Ghazzawi & Jagannathan, 2008, p. 48). Therefore, outreach programs seek to help students learn some of those conventions so that they too can gain access to a college education that is increasingly deemed a necessity for anyone desiring upward, social mobility. It is no surprise, therefore, that there are so many outreach programs across the country.

According to Hirsch (2008), US commitment to providing underserved students with avenues to college education is marked by the number of outreach programs nationally. These programs may take the form of free or reduced tuition rates at well-endowed universities such as Amherst or Harvard, while at other colleges, like Clark University or the University of Massachusetts Boston, they may be in the form of partnerships with high schools or various types of bridge programs.

Researchers like Gandara and Bial, 2001 or Perna (2002), put the total college outreach programs, presently in operation around the US, at around a 1,000. Each one offers a different mix of educational support and information to students from economically impacted backgrounds. In fact, based on statistics provided by the Educational Longitudinal Survey (ELS) of 2002, fully one in 20 US public schools participate in outreach programs, while one in ten economically disadvantaged high school students attends such a program each year (Domina, 2009).

Do Outreach Programs Work?

Researchers like Eckholm (2008), argue that interventions with low-income teenagers, namely African Americans and Hispanics, have proven effective at a time when said minority group is losing ground in today's job market. For instance, Texas A&M University has spent millions of dollars over the past six years to reach out to African-American and Hispanic students through the establishment of recruiting centers in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, McAllen and Laredo and creating scholarships for first-generation and underserved students and high schools (Kever, 2010). To ensure students' success, the university provides mandatory classes in study skills and time management, and requires students to check in with advisers regularly. In addition, the university provides mentors for first generation and other minority students (Kever, 2010).

However, despite this abundance of avenues into colleges for underserved students, and despite some evidence that some of these programs are successful, Hirsch (2008) argues that unless students successfully complete their degree programs, they will simply have taken on debt without the benefits of remunerative employment that a college degree can provide. Hirsch (2008) concludes that in the present global economy, successful completion of a college degree can make the difference between lifelong employment and penury, and calls for increased cooperation between all bodies involved in creating avenues to college for economically disadvantaged students.

Adding to the concerns of authors like Deborah Hirsch, are studies that indicate that outreach programs show mixed results in terms of whether students go to college and, more importantly, whether they succeed once they get there. Despite these numbers, however, not enough is known about how well these programs work. For example, Domina (2009), using data from the 2002 ELS, initially concluded that outreach programs do little to change participating students' educational experiences. However, it was concluded that the programs may have a greater effect on students who did not actually participate. For example, it may motivate teachers to talk to their students more often about college attendance. Similarly, it may have the effect of helping peers, who did not attend the program, solidify their college plans because of the feedback received from those who did.

However, Domina (2009) goes on to point to the limitations of the data in that it is mostly based on self-reporting by students, some of whom may have only minimally participated in an outreach program. In addition, the study focused on participants who were in the 10th and 12th years of schooling while there is evidence that earlier interventions (8th and 9th grades) may show more significant effects. Based on these limitations, therefore, Domina (2009) calls for more studies, with narrowly defined criteria, in order to determine whether outreach programs are effective or not.

Ghazzawi and Jagannathan (2008) conducted just such an assessment study on a Summer Business Camp (REACH) held at the University of La Verne. While their study showed REACH to have successfully motivated students to attend college, they in turn concluded that the study had some limitations such as the fact that the study sample consisted of only 50 participants from one summer camp as data from previous camps was unavailable. Therefore, the researchers pointed to the need for other types of studies, built on the first one that would compare REACH with similar programs. In addition, they speculated on the outcomes of a Summer Business Camp hosted by the entire University as opposed to only by one College. Finally, they called for an in-depth study conducted over several REACH camps to seek for consistency of results.


This study assesses the impact of the two years (i.e. 2007 and 2008) of how an outreach Business Program "REACH Business Camp" helped first generation/underserved students in attending college and considering business education. The research method used for this study was based on a follow-up letters sent directly to students requesting updates on where they are in terms of college attendance, institution's type (i.e. 4 year college, 2 year college, trade school, and military school. One of the authors sent a follow-up e-mail as a reminder. Additionally, most of the students were contacted via a telephone for an update.

The major part of the study included 118 high school students who participated in the program (50 in 2007 and 68 in 2008) from three Southern California school districts. Said students were previously selected based on their demonstrated the ability to succeed at a university by having a grade point average of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0-point scale and by being involved in some extracurricular activities such as service to the community, or the school. Additionally, participants in the program should have a desire to attain a business education.


Participation in this study was voluntary and data was gathered via letters, emails/telephone responses, all of which were kept confidential. Participants were asked to answer questions on whether they are currently attending a college, its type, and what they are majoring in. To ensure the validity and the confidentiality of the collected information, participants were told that all provided information would remain confidential and would be disclosed only with the participant's permission or as required by law.

Participants and Setting

In the year 2007, the sample had 50 high school juniors of which 54% were women (n=27) and 46% were men (n=23). Respondents' ethnic backgrounds were 22% African American (n=11), 14% Asian/Pacific Islander (n=7), 18% Caucasian/ White (n=9), and 46% Hispanic (n=23). In comparison, in 2008, the sample included 68 high school juniors of which 66% were women (n=45) and 34% were men (n=23). Respondents' ethnic backgrounds were 22% African American (n=15), 18% Asian/Pacific Islander (n=18), 4% Caucasian/ White (n=3), and 56% Hispanic (n=38). Exhibits 1, 2, and 3 summarize the sample characteristics.

In addition to the aforementioned questions, participants were asked by the program's director to write a letter or to send an e-mail indicating what aspects of this program were satisfying to them personally and helped changed their perspective about college. Sample testimonials included with this paper have been reproduced verbatim.




Intention to Attend Versus Actual College Attendance

On the 2007 post assessment survey, students responded to the question of whether they intended to go to college, 48 students (22 male and 26 female), representing 96% of program participants, indicated their willingness to attend college. Only one female student indicated that she was "not sure" and one male student did not participate in the post test because of his illness at the time (Ghazzawi & Jagannathan, 2008; Ghazzawi, 2010). In the follow-up study of the former participants who would be in college, 39 out of 50 former participants were reached. The remaining 11 students were not able to be reached due to changes in addresses. Of the 39 students, 37 of them- 94% (16 male and 21 female) are actually in college today. The remaining 2 students (female) are attending trade schools (1 in a culinary school and in a cosmetology school).

Similarly, on the 2008 post-assessment survey, 67 students (23 male and 44 female), representing 98% of program participants, indicated their willingness to attend college. Only one female student indicated that she was "not sure". In the same follow-up, 51 out of 68 students were reached. The remaining 17 students were not able to be reached due to address changes. Of the 51 students, 49 of them-96% (15 male and 34 female) are actually in college today. Please see Exhibits 4, 5, 6, and 7.


As one former student who is studying environmental science at the University of California, Berkeley wrote, "Participating in the 2008 REACH Business summer program at La Verne fortified my drive to attend college. The intimate campus of La Verne gave me a taste of what university life would be like, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Among the variety of business classes that were offered during those three weeks, I feel that outside of the classroom, that summer taught me one of the most important parts of business, networking. There are many people I met that I still am in contact with. Although three weeks seems like a short time, I still talk about that summer where I collaborated with many, learned a lot about working with others, and had a lot of fun" (Lam, 2010).

Another student wrote the following e-mail:

"My name is Edilia Herrera and I am currently going to Mt. San Antonio College. Am transferring to Cal. State, Fullerton. My major is computer and network technician and am planning to get a second degree in business management. Attending to University of La Verne for the business camp was one of the best experiences I had during the whole life attending to that camp changed my life forever. I learned so much that I never thought that I would ever say these but I actually loved being in class. The professors made each class session so fun and enjoy able to learn. I learned things that actually help me now in my daily life, I loved the camp... I thank you, the sponsors, he Ra's, for making that great impact o my life that actually influenced me to continue going to school, to go to college and do something with my life" (Herrera, 2010).


Are Former REACH Participants Majoring in Business?

Former participants were asked if they are majoring in business. Based on their responses, it was revealed that a total of 16 students (i.e. 9 students from 2007 and 7 students from 2008) are majoring in business. While 35 students in total do not have a declared major yet (10 from 2007 and 25 from 2008), 35 (18 from 2007 group and 17 from 2008 group) are majoring in other majors (i.e. natural science, social science, and other disciplines). Therefore, the majority of the former participants are not majoring in business-related majors. Please see Exhibits 8 and 9. It is clear that more students from the 2008 group are still undecided as compared to 2007 due to the reason that they are still in their first year in college while their 2007 counterparts are on their 2nd year and got a better grip on college education and majors. Please see Exhibits 8, and 9.

One former participant who is majoring in business administration and currently at the University of California, Berkley wrote:

"The REACH business camp provided me with a wide range of knowledge regarding the business world, as well as led me to realize that business is what I want to practice in the future. It taught me skills and techniques dealing with networking, entrepreneurship, marketing, financing, accounting, and much more. Overall, the summer camp was a life changing experience, which allowed me to apply the learned skills and information to the real business world" (Motiwala, 2010).

Another former REACH participant who is currently at the University of California, Riverside and majoring in business administration stated:
   I really enjoyed my time at the REACH business camp. Although we
   came in second place I learned a lot and was able to get a taste of
   different aspects of the business field. I now attend the
   University of California, Riverside and am majoring in business
   administration with an emphasis in accounting. I was really able to
   grow from this camp; attending University of Laverne for those
   amazing three weeks motivated me to further explore within the
   world of business. Thank you! (Murthy, 2010).


As the main objective of REACH business camp is to provide first generation "underserved" 11th graders a taste of college and help nurturing them, the findings for the proposed research questions based on the aforementioned discussions may be summarized as follows:

Finding 1

There is a positive relationship between participation in the summer business camp and college attendance.

Finding 2

While during the participants' selection process students showed desire to study business, there is no relationship between participation in the summer business camp and majoring in business.

What Former Participants Are Saying?

As demonstrated in the study findings and conclusion, the program outcomes are very positive and suggest that outreach programs like the summer REACH business camp help jump started participating first generation students to further their education and pursue a college dream, program's director received many encouraging letters, e-mails, and phone messages from supporters, school administrators, school counselors, superintendents, community leaders, and most importantly former participants (see Appendix A). In a personal letter to the author of this paper, one student who is attending the University of California, Irvine wrote:
   My name is Jane Chang and I am currently a second year attending
   the University of California, Irvine as a Biological Sciences
   major. Throughout my educational lifespan, I think the experience
   that I encountered in the REACH program is one that is beyond
   words. The REACH program not only impacted my educational
   experience, it impacted and greatly influenced my liking for
   college and motivation to attend college. I remember way in the
   beginning when I was first signing up for this summer program, I
   hesitated a bit for a few reasons such as, being separated from my
   family and going away to a foreign place for a month. It was an
   experience that helped me adjust to college now, and it was an
   experience that helped me grow as a person. The fundamental
   knowledge and information provided by the instructors were great,
   and the amount of experience I gained living at the Residence Hall
   helped me learn to interact better with my peers. Not only did the
   REACH Summer Program help me to become a better student and friend,
   it thoroughly prepared me for my education and social experiences
   at the University of California, Irvine. Thank you Dr. Ghazzawi for
   being a part of this REACH Program and allowing me to encounter one
   of the best experiences of my life. It was incredibly memorable and
   educational and Thank You for helping me reach once step closer to
   becoming a better person (Chang, 2010).

Another student who is attending the University of California, Los Angeles wrote the following note:

As a junior in high school, I heard about the REACH Business camp through my English teacher who highly recommended it. I was instantly interested and was very excited about being in a college environment for the summer.We rarely have a taste of the real outside world let aside a chance to interact with people of different ethnicity, religion, and background. However, being part of the REACH business camp really allowed us this opportunity. Therefore, my peers and I had a taste of how college would be. We were interacting and working on business plans and models with others ... This was definitely an inspiring and motivating factor of business camp. My team created a company called NDIZI (a charity organization), which won first runner up. We were featured in the Claremont Courier newspaper and this was a big motivation for a lot of us to reach higher and dream bigger. I realized that dreaming, working hard, and achieving this dream can take me places that I never imagined I could be. REACH Business camp really inspired me to put myself out in the world and it proved to me that I can go to any college and shine. It was just a matter of working hard. Immediately after camp, I began writing essays for national competitions (something I would not have done before), and I won first place in two competitions. During my college interviews, the interviewers were very impressed with my achievements which were inspired by my achievements at ULV ... I am currently a sophomore at UCLA. I'm studying to get my B.S. in Physiological Sciences. I'm a pre-med student with hopes of attending medical school in the future. I'm very active on campus. I'm a staff writer for Al Talib student news magazine and I hold an administrative position with them as well. I also hold an administrative position with MAPS (Mentors for Academic and Peer Support) as Parent Coordinator, so I work with underprivileged students and interact with their parents to better their educational quality. So altogether, ULV REACH Summer Business Camp with Dr. Ghazzawi was really an inspiration and a motivational turning point for me. It helped me to learn to become more successful. Thank you for everything! (Kahil, 2010).



The current follow-up study attempted to contribute to the literature by showing the impact of exposing first-generation, low-income, and minority college-outbound students to college life on their future decision to actually attending college. The study was based on a follow up of two years participants of a 3-week summer business program that brought together a total of 118 first generation 11th graders (50 in 2007 and 68 in 2009). While students showed significant changes in their attitudes towards college in general and inclination to attend college as measured in pre and post tests in these years respectfully, this study demonstrated that an average of 95% of those who were reached in the follow-up study are actually attending college today and therefore accepted its claim that there is a positive relationship between participation in the summer business camp and college attendance.

The authors of this study conclude that programs such as REACH will help first generation students feel the sense of belongingness in a college environment. As Ghazzawi (2010) stated, these students developed realistic expectations of college, broke the cycle of fear, and re-assure their high sense of self-efficacy. In an e-mail to the program's director, one former student said "My name is Octavio Reyes and I am currently attending California State University, San Bernardino. I'm pursuing a B.S in International Business. I was always motivated in attending college, but what I did not know was what to expect or what was expected of me in college because I had no one to turn for advice. That is where the REACH program came in hand. The REACH program gave me the personal experience of living on a university campus. It also showed me that networking with fellow students and instructors was an important aspect of success in college and in life ... (Reyes, 2010).

The researchers believe that participants' actual college attendance was partially due to the fact that said participants got more realistic expectations about college after they got a taste of it. This finding correlates with other studies' findings where researchers suggested a need to fostering first generation and minority college-bound students through institutional interference out of a believe that much of the variation in student's success or failure could be attributed to the differences in the characteristics of the students' background (Ghazzawi & Jagannathan, 2008; Jassal, 2007; Rumberger & Thomas, 2000 as cited in Ghazzawi, 2010).

On the contrary, the study concluded that no correlation exists between participation in the summer business camp and students subsequently majoring in business.

Limitations and Implications for Future Research

One of the limitations of the study was the obvious size of its sample; only 90 students participated in this follow up study. Therefore the study recommends that more research with larger numbers of participants is needed to ensure the applicability of this research findings to the general population of participants. Another limitation is the lack of published data regarding similar programs' outcomes from other institutions. Accordingly, the study suggest a future longitudinal research to cover several summer programs to determine whether these study findings will hold true over time. Ghazzawi (2010) suggested that it will be useful to do a comparative study with other similar programs in other institution(s). Finally, future research should also investigate not only the actual college attendance of first generation but also their retention rate.


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Carlson, R. (2009, May 29) High school teachers are on the front line of job Creation.Entrepreneurship Education News Letter, Altadena (CA) Rotary Club.

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Issam Ghazzawi, University of La Verne

Christine Jagannathan, University of La Verne


Issam A. Ghazzawi is the associate professor of Management, Sam Walton Fellow, and the director of REACH business program at the University of La Verne. He received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. His research interests focus on Job Satisfaction, First Generation Students and Learning, Motivation, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Organizational Structure and Design.

Christine Jagannathan is an instructor of Business Communications in the University of La Verne's pre-MBA program. She received her MA in TESL and Composition/Rhetoric from California State Polytechnic University Pomona.
Exhibit 1: Characteristics of the Sample (N=118 for two years. 2007
N=50 and 2008 N=68)

Ethnic Background            2007          2007          2008
                           Frequency         %         Frequency

African American              11            22            15
Asian/Pacific Islander         7            14            12
Caucasian/White                9            18             3
Hispanic                      23            46            38
Total                         50           100%           68


Male                          23            46            23
Female                        27            54            45
Total                         50           100%           68

Ethnic Background            2008       Combined 2    Combined 2
                               %           years         years
                                         Frequency         %

African American              22            26            22
Asian/Pacific Islander        18            19            16
Caucasian/White                4            12            10
Hispanic                      56            61            52
Total                        100%           118          100%


Male                          34            46            39
Female                        66            72            61
Total                        100%           118          100%

Exhibit 4: Intention to Go Versus Actual Attending of College: A

Year       Number of       Participants         % of
          students in      inclination     participating
          the program       to attend         students

2007           50               48               96
2008           68               67               98
Total         118              115               97

Year       Follow-up/        Students           % of
            students        currently      participating
           reached in       attending         students
              2010           college

2007          39 *              37               94
2008           51               49               96
Total          90               86               95

* 1 student is in a culinary school and 1 is in a cosmetology

Exhibit 6: Where Did REACH Participants Go?

Year          Number of        Follow-up/        Students
             students in        students        currently
             the program       reached in       attending
                                  2010           college

2007              50               39               37
2008              68               51               49
Total            118               90               86

Year           Students         Students         Students
             attending 4      attending 2       attending
             year college     year college     trade school

2007             18 *              19              2 **
2008              31               18               0
Total             49               37               2

* 1 student is attending the Air force Academy

** 1 student is in a culinary school and 1 is in a cosmetology

Exhibit 8: Former REACH Participants: What They Are Majoring In?

Year     Follow-up/      Students       Students       Students
          students      currently       with no      majoring in
         reached in     attending       declared       business
            2010         college         major

2007         39             37             10             9
2008         51             49             25             7
Total        90             86             35             16

Year      Students       Students       Students
        majoring in    majoring in      in other
          natural         social         majors
          science        science

2007         5              5              8
2008         6              4              7
Total        11             9              15
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Author:Ghazzawi, Issam; Jagannathan, Christine
Publication:Academy of Educational Leadership Journal
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2011
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