Understanding selective college access for minority, low-income high school students
Jennett, Pauline Elizabeth
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The purpose of this investigation was to explore a contextual intervention of effective college advising programs for ethnic minority students that helps them acquire the skills and personal dispositions necessary to apply to, get into, and stay at selective colleges and universities. Utilizing a regression analysis, this analytical study examined 199 low-income minority high school students in a contextual college intervention program from 2014 to 2015. The central hypothesis being tested was that intervention programs that were successful at getting lower income ethnic minority youth to apply to, get into, and stay at selective colleges and universities attract and maintain students with higher levels of personal factors, especially factors of resilience such as motivation, grit, and perseverance. The research questions sought to examine the relationship between effective college advising programs for minority, low-income students (contextual intervention) and what social and emotional or resilient skills (personal factors) their students possess to become college and career ready, and whether possessing these skills differentiates those students who are accepted into highly selective colleges from those who are accepted to less selective colleges. A growing body of research demonstrates that admittance to selective colleges often leads to increased social status, higher income, and improved job opportunities. It has been demonstrated that getting into a highly selective college matters. Caucasian and minority students alike who graduate from highly selective colleges experience increased lifetime earnings and prestige (Bowen, 1998, Avery, 2003). A total of 199 minority high school student participants were surveyed during their senior year in high school. Survey items were drawn from Solberg’s Success Model Survey (2007) and Duckworth’s Grit Model (2007). Duckworth validated a self-report questionnaire called the Grit Scale where “Grit” is defined as trait-level perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Solberg’s Success Model Survey is a composite of several scales: Career Search Self-Efficacy, Goal-Setting, and Motivation to Attend School; Academic Self-Efficacy; and Social Connections. (Sample survey questions in Table section.) The dataset also included participant demographic data, program participation information, and college admit results. This investigation tested Coleman’s (2006) Minority Student Achievement Model to demonstrate that significant personal factors including academic ability, diligent use of resources, perseverance, and strategic involvement in youth development initiatives, combined with a successful college contextual intervention, were significant indicators regarding increased admittance to selective colleges.