Paving Postsecondary Pathways in Small, Urban High Schools: Developing the School, College, and Career Connections for Young Women of Color.

Nicole E. Holland, in collaboration with Raquel Farmer-Hinton (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) were recently awarded a three-year grant through the Hymen Milgrom Supporting Organization, which funds the Successful Pathways from School to Work research initiative. This organization, which operates out of the University of Chicago, was created with a $17-million gift from the estate of Hymen T. Milgrom to help achieve the goal of making urban public education more effective at preparing students to succeed in the modern labor market.

Drs. Holland and Farmer-Hinton's investigation seeks to enhance the college and career preparatory efforts of one small, urban school that predominately serves young women of color, many of whom are from low socioeconomic backgrounds and who may be the first in their families to pursue a college education. The question guiding this study is, “To what extent can frequent and focused college planning interventions (from an outside source) influence the high school experiences and college knowledge of students attending a small, urban high school with an emerging postsecondary planning mission?” The intervention will be different from what the school currently offers in that it will focus on developing students’ college knowledge early in their high school careers (and continue throughout), while requiring students to share that information with their families and apply that information to concrete college preparatory activities. The intervention will also make explicit connections to academic preparation, college planning, and career aspirations. This mixed method investigation will include observations, interviews, and focus groups from students and their families, alumnae, and school personnel; as well as, survey data from students and alumnae; as well as school level data from the partner school, and longitudinal senior survey data from the Consortium on Chicago School Research. The findings from this study will inform students and their families, school personnel, researchers, and policy makers of the types of college knowledge and school-based resources that students from traditionally underrepresented college-going populations require in order to help close the college preparatory, enrollment, and graduation gaps.