Post #3: Summer Melt

In my last two blog posts, I’ve discussed how college access programs can help disadvantaged students reach higher education. Studies have shown mixed results about the effects of these programs, but there are several tactics that can help them better support student achievement, from starting early to targeting more disadvantaged students.

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More Research-Based Strategies for College Access Programs


In my last blog post, I discussed the strengths of effective college access programs for disadvantaged students. These strategies included serving entire schools, working with those not already planning to attend college, and engaging participants over a long time.

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Effectiveness of College Preparation Programs for Disadvantaged Students- Part 1


Attending college makes a large difference in students’ lives, especially in terms of economic well-being. On average, Americans with a bachelor’s degree earn about $47,000 per year in after-tax income, compared with only $29,000 for high school graduates (Ma et al. 2016). Unfortunately, for those with low socioeconomic status, earning a bachelor’s degree is disproportionately difficult. In 2012, only 14% of young adults who came from a low-income background had earned a bachelor’s degree by their mid-twenties, compared with 29% of those with medium SES and 60% of those with high SES. Large gaps exist even between those with similar test scores (NCES 2015). Disadvantaged students need a stronger pathway of support to gain access to higher education.

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Effectiveness of Summer Enrichment Programs for Underserved Urban Students

I plan to study the effectiveness of different approaches to summer enrichment programs for underserved urban students. I would like to study which characteristics of these programs help maximize students’ outcomes, such as increased confidence and performance in school, and especially college enrollment and graduation rates. I expect that offering rigorous academic classes or tutoring, college counseling and visits, parental engagement, an early starting age, enrichment activities like projects and community service, and mentoring will help students succeed the most. To conduct this research, I plan to read articles on the effectiveness of these factors, as well as reports on specific programs. I also would like to compare the approach and effectiveness of Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia, where I am interning this summer, with other similar organizations in Philadelphia, such as Summer Search. I plan to compare statistics from these organizations on college enrollment and college graduation rates to observe which ones may contribute to academic success. This research should improve my understanding of how disadvantaged students can overcome barriers to higher education with the help of summer programs.