Study finds key criteria that determine college success for low-income youth

October 11, 2013 by Kathy Wyer in Other Sciences / Social Sciences

( —A five-year study by UC researchers that included a survey of California youth and interviews with more than 300 young adults about their interactions with educational institutions has identified the five key issues that matter most for understanding and improving college success for low-income students.

The $7.5 million study, "Pathways to Postsecondary Success: Maximizing Opportunities for Youth in Poverty," spotlights the importance of student voices, an understanding of student diversity, asset-based approaches to education, strong connections between K–12 and higher education, and institutional support for .

The study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and was issued by the University of California's All Campus Consortium on Research For Diversity (UC/ACCORD) at UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies (GSE&IS).

"Our study began in 2008, at the onset of a critical economic downturn—the Great Recession—which impacted education and the labor market in considerably complex ways," said UC/ACCORD director Daniel Solórzano, co-principal investigator on the study and a professor of social sciences and comparative education at GSE&IS. "It was clear the recession had an effect on both colleges and students. Budget cuts slashed enrollments at campuses and decreased the resources for those already enrolled. Many low-income students faced even greater financial instability from the scarcity of work or sudden unemployment of family members.

"Therefore, at a time when students' required additional support to stay on the path through college, the supports and conditions that are vital to their success were disappearing or overburdened on campuses."

While "Pathways" reports on national data, the study focused on California, which has the largest number of community colleges (112). The vast majority of low-income students in California who pursue post-secondary education begin at community colleges.

Principal findings from the study include:

The multi-method study included the development of a monitoring tool to track educational opportunities for low-income youth. It also identified a set of indicators at the organizational level of community campuses that support student success.

More information:

Provided by University of California, Los Angeles

"Study finds key criteria that determine college success for low-income youth" October 11, 2013