Panel: Supporting College Enrollment and Early Success of Underrepresented Students: Investigating Individual and Institutional Approaches across State Contexts

Saturday, November 9, 2019: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Governor's Square 10 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizer:  Stacey L. Brockman, University of Michigan
Panel Chair:  J. Cameron Anglum, Saint Louis University
Discussants:  Ashley Johnson, Detroit College Access Network and Kevin Stange, University of Michigan

Higher education is one of the most reliable pathways to higher earnings and lower unemployment. In 2016, the median weekly earnings of young adults with a bachelor’s degree were 57% higher than those of young adults with a high school degree (McFarland et al., 2018). Yet while enrollment rates are climbing, many youth who start college today will never earn a degree. In fact, 40% of all students who enrolled in a four-year college in 2009 did not graduate within six years (U.S. Department of Education, 2017). This problem is especially acute among minority students, first-generation college students, and students from low-income families. For example, Black and Hispanic youth graduate college at rates well below that of Whites (41% and 53%, respectively, vs. 63%); and graduation rates among low-income Pell Grant recipients are 18% lower than those of their non-Pell peers (DeAngelo, Franke, Hurtado, Pryor, & Tran, 2011; Whistle & Hiler, 2018).


There is a growing body of literature on improving educational attainment for students from low-income and underserved backgrounds, but many gaps remain to be addressed. First, although there is great deal of research on improving access to college, less is known about interventions and models for increasing college completion. Recent research demonstrates the effectiveness of “wraparound” programs, like City University of New York’s (CUNY) Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) that address both financial and nonfinancial barriers to college completion (Scrivener et al., 2015). However, the majority of programs that have been formally evaluated to-date focus on samples of community college students and students enrolled in associate’s degree programs. Although there is much to learn from this body of research, more studies of students at four-year colleges are needed to identify unique challenges and supports in these settings. Furthermore, the most effective wraparound programs are expensive and complex to administer. An investment of this magnitude is unlikely to be financially feasible in many institutions. Thus, more work needs to be done to understand the barriers that students face in successfully enrolling in and completing college, particularly those that could be remedied via institutional, programmatic, and/or policy changes. 


This panel contributes to ongoing policy debates concerning the most promising, yet sustainable, supports for disadvantaged students, and explores the individual, institutional, and policy-related factors that help or hinder student success. Together, these papers shed light on the problem in a way that acknowledges its multidimensional nature. These four papers draw on work in different states (IL, CA, and MI) using a variety of sources of evidence, including, administrative records, transcripts, surveys, and focus groups. We assess impacts on student outcomes along the path to and through college including, enrollment (and the 2-year vs. 4-year enrollment gap), persistence, credit attainment, and degree completion. Collectively, we show that investments in both social and financial supports show promise.

College Pathways and Outcomes Among Detroit High School Graduates: A Landscape Study
Stacey L. Brockman, Robin Jacob and Jasmina Camo-Biogradlija, University of Michigan

A Randomized Controlled Trial to Assess the Efficacy of the Detroit Promise Path, a College Promise Program with Success Supports
Alyssa Ratledge1, Dan Cullinan1, Rebekah O’Donoghue1 and Jasmina Camo-Biogradlija2, (1)MDRC, (2)University of Michigan

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