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College Access and Completion among Boys and Young Men of Color: Literature Review of Promising Practices

Kara Dukakis, Nina Duong, Jorge Ruiz de Velasco, and Jamila Henderson
Publication Date: 
August, 2014

Conducted by researchers at the Gardner Center at the request of the College Futures Foundation, this literature review examines challenges and promising practices for increasing college access and completion among boys and young men of color. Wide gaps in college enrollment and persistence remain, even among, for example, Black and Latino boys who reach the end of high school academically prepared for postsecondary education. Consequently, this review moves beyond issues of academic preparedness to other factors that appear to mediate college access and success for boys and young men of color. Drawn from the available literature, the following key challenges represent the primary obstacles for boys and young men of color as they prepare for college and persist toward completion: (1) college undermatch; (2) imperfect financial aid information and support; (3) racial and stereotype threat linked to high school and post-secondary dropout; (4) experiences of boys and young men of color as low-income, first-generation-to-attend students; and (5) lack of equity-focused institutional practices in K-12 and postsecondary education. Overall, the available literature indicates that a combination of individual interventions and institutional reforms is the optimum path towards supporting this population to enroll in and complete college. The literature shows that the most promising interventions emphasize identity development; strong relationships with adults and peers; high expectations from adults; group learning opportunities; family engagement; fostering a sense of belonging; and more. 

Suggested citation: 

Dukakis, K.; Duong, N.; Ruiz de Velasco, J.; and Henderson; J.. (2012). College Access and Completion among Boys and Young Men of Color: Literature Review of Promising Practices. Stanford, CA: John W. Gardner Center for Youth and their Communities. 

Related Researcher(s): 
Policy area: 
College, Career, and Civic Readiness