Higher Education: Handbook Of Theory And Research: Volume 36 [36, 1 ed.] 3030440060, 9783030440060, 3030440087, 9783030440084, 9783030440077

Published annually since 1985, the Handbook series provides a compendium of thorough and integrative literature reviews

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Higher Education: Handbook Of Theory And Research: Volume 36 [36, 1 ed.]
 3030440060, 9783030440060, 3030440087, 9783030440084, 9783030440077

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Table of contents :
Preface
Contents
About the Editor
About the Associate Editors
Reviewers
Contributors
1 Forward March: Living an Academic Life
Introduction
Part I: Constructing an Academic Life
Preparation of Myself
Catholic Ideas
Being Irish-American
Middle-Class Privilege and Safety
Forging a Gay Identity
Preparation of My Academic Self
On Reading
On Writing
On Puzzles
On Listening
On Solitary Activities
Coming Out/AIDS/Barry
Preparation of My Intellectual Self
Pine Street Inn
Peace Corps Morocco
Fort Berthold Community College and the Three Affiliated Tribes
Harvard and Stanford
Developing My Academic Self
The National Center
Penn State University
University of Southern California
International
ASHE/AERA
Friendships
The Development of My Mature Self
Part II: Organizing Ideas for an Academic Life
Understanding Culture in Organizations
The Enduring Challenge of Equity
On Theory, Method, and Writing
Advancing Democracy and Fighting Fascism
Conclusion
References
2 Reforming Transitions from High School to Higher Education
Introduction
Factors Contributing to Lack of Academic Preparation for College Coursework
Chapter Overview
Overview of Early Assessment and Underlying Conceptual Frameworks
Impacts and Implementation of Early Assessment Policies
Early Assessment Impacts on College Enrollment
Early Assessment Impacts on First Year Coursetaking
Early Assessment Impacts on Longer-Term Postsecondary Outcomes
Implementation of Early Assessment
Overview of Transition Courses and Underlying Conceptual Frameworks
Impacts and Implementation of Transition Courses
Transition Course Impacts on First Year Coursetaking
Transition Course Impacts on Longer-Term Postsecondary Outcomes
Implementation of Transition Courses
Overview of Summer Bridge Programs and Underlying Conceptual Frameworks
Impacts and Implementation of Summer Bridge Programs
Summer Bridge Impacts on First Year Coursetaking
Summer Bridge Impacts on Longer-Term Postsecondary Outcomes
Implementation of Summer Bridge Programs
Overview of Early College High Schools and Underlying Conceptual Frameworks
Impacts and Implementation of Early College High Schools
Early College Impacts on College Enrollment
Early College Impacts on Longer-Term Postsecondary Outcomes
Implementation of Early College High Schools
Conclusions
References
3 The Limits of Choice: A Black Feminist Critique of College ``Choice´´ Theories and Research
Introduction
Neoliberalism and the Contradictions of College Access
More Than the Color Line: Institutionalized Forms of Oppression and College Access
Incomplete College ``Choice´´ Theories and Models
Review of Literature
Theoretical Perspectives in College-Going and College ``Choice´´ Research
Traditional and Alternative Research Approaches
New Approaches to Examine the College ``Choice´´ Process
The Paradox of Education and the Black Struggle
Problematizing College ``Choice´´
Racial Theories in Higher Education and Empirical Research on Black Student´s College-Going Processes
Research on Black Women and College ``Choice´´
A Historical Perspective on Black Feminism
Black Feminist Thought
Controlling Images
Interlocking Nature of Oppression
Black Women´s Culture, Self-definition, and Self-valuation
Conclusion: New Imaginings and Possibilities
References
4 Queer and Trans College Student Success
Queer and Trans College Student Success: A Comprehensive Review and Call to Action
Purpose
Framing
Epistemology
Jay´s Positionality
Dolan´s Positionality
Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks
Identity Development
Student Development Theory
Outness and Identity Disclosure
Queerphobia and Transphobia
Normativity
Finances
Conceptual Model of Student Success
Free Application for Federal Student Aid
College Choice
Relationships and Spaces
Multicontextual Model for Diverse Learning Environments
Belonging
Relationships
Spaces
Institutions
Transformational Tapestry Model
National Inventories of QT Resources
Institutional Policies
Institutional Contexts
Society
Minority Stress Theory
Nondiscrimination
Violence
Sexual Stigma
Implications
Institutional Change
Data Collection
Data Analysis
Policy and Legislation
Using Frameworks
Conclusion
References
5 Strengthening Outcomes of Adult Students in Community Colleges
Introduction
Defining Adult Students
Age as an Imperfect Proxy
Subjective Sense of Adulthood
Adult Learners
Adult Students Cross-Classified as Nontraditional Students
Synthesizing a Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students
Operationalizing Adult Status
Adult Students´ Participation in Postsecondary Education
Enrollment in Higher Education
Role of Community Colleges in Adult Undergraduate Education
Adult Students as Diverse Learners
Differences Between Older and Younger Students
Improving Adult Community College Students´ Outcomes
Previous Work on Classifying Community College Support Programs
Programs and Initiatives with Potential to Improve Adult Students´ Outcomes
Mapping Mechanisms onto Adult Characteristics
Directions for Future Research and Practice
Conclusion
References
6 Toward a Critical Social Movements Studies
Defining Social Justice Movements
Outer Edges of Higher Education Research on Campus Activism
Social Movements Theory and Critical Theory
Social Movements Theory
Critical Theory
A Brief History of Social Justice Movements in Higher Education
Complicating Analysis of Social Justice Movements in Higher Education
Toward a Critical Social Movements Studies Framework
Utilize Catalytic Approaches
Foster Critical Agency
Cultivate Solidarity in Social Justice Movements
Bolster Social Justice Movement Resources
Enhance Efficacy Social Justice Movement Strategies and Tactics
Expose How Systems Resist Movements
Expanding Social Movements Research in Higher Education
Expanding and Sustaining Movement Activity
Deciphering Impact
Complicating the Role of Resources
Understanding the Complexities of Strategies and Tactics
Exposing University Resistance
Conclusion
References
7 Patterns in the Study of Academic Learning in US Higher Education Journals, 2005-2020
Introduction
The Framing and Scope of This Chapter
An Overview of the Corpus
Conceptualizing Academic Learning
An Illustration
Theorizing Academic Learning
Using Conceptual Models
Literature Reviews as Framing Devices
Summary: Conceptualizing Academic Learning
Studying Students´ Characteristics
Summary: Studying Students´ Characteristics
Studying Instruction
Using Students Surveys to Study Instruction
Using Multiple Data Sources to Study Instruction
Summary: Studying Instruction
Studying Programmatic Efforts
Summary: Studying Programmatic Effects
Studying Students´ Interactions with Faculty and Peers
Summary: Studying Students´ Interactions with Faculty and Peers
Conclusions: How Have Researchers Studied Academic Learning in US Institutions?
Broad Patterns in the Study of Academic Learning
Reflections on the Criteria for the Review
Conceptualizing Academic Learning
Studying Students and Their Experiences
Studying Teaching
Studying Learning in Courses and Programs
Imagining the Future of Studies of Academic Learning
References
8 The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
Introduction
Organization of this Chapter
Theoretical Frameworks for Understanding Doctoral Student Socialization and Professional Development
Psychological Perspectives of Career Choice
Trait and Factor Theory: Matching Personality and Occupations
Holland´s Theory: A Personality-Occupation Typology
Sociological Perspectives on Career Choice
Socialization Theory
Socialization Theory and Doctoral Student Socialization
The Congruence and Assimilation Orientation
New Approaches to Understanding Career Choice that Move Us Beyond Congruence and Assimilation
Planned Happenstance Theory (a.k.a. Happenstance Learning Theory)
Summary of HLT: Relationship to the Doctoral Student Experience
Chaos Theory of Careers (CTC)
Summary of CTC: Relationship to the Doctoral Student Experience
New Approaches to Understanding Socialization that Move Us Away from Congruence and Assimilation
Critical Approaches: Centering the Experiences of Minoritized Students
The Role of Faculty in Reshaping Socialization
Adopting an Assets-Based (or Anti-Deficit) Approach
The Role of Mentoring and Advising, and its Long-Term Impact
Mentoring Students for More than Just Academic Careers
International Students and Socialization
Revisiting Antony´s Modified Framework for Doctoral Student Socialization
An Agenda for Future Research
Enhanced Advising Approaches
Modified Programmatic Requirements
Deeply Integrated Professional Development
Conclusion
References
9 A Mid-Career Faculty Agenda
Methods
Present Day Professoriate
The Academy at a Glance: Full-Time Faculty Demographics
Challenges: Defining Mid-Career
Mid-Career: Four Decades of Research and Practice
Conceptual and Theoretical Models in the Study of Mid-Career Faculty
1980s: The Foundation for the Study of Mid-Career Faculty
Tension Between Teaching and Research
Historical Insights
Contributing Contextual Factors: Value vs. Reward
Intersection of Institutional and Individual Considerations
Professional Competence
Refocusing the Perspective
Multifaceted Nature of the Faculty Career: A Professional Perspective
Career Stage Approach
Academic Professionalization
Institutional Examples and Professional Education
Summary of 1980s Literature
1990s: A Focus on the Individual Faculty Member
Intersection of Individual and Institution
The Institution as a Source of Strain
Institutional Supports
Multifaceted Nature of the Faculty Career: An Individual Perspective
Well-Being of the Whole Person
Tension Between Teaching and Research
Challenges of Competing Time Commitments
Isolation and Lack of Recognition
Summary of 1990s Literature
2000s: The Role of Context to the Mid-Career Faculty Experience
The Multifaceted Nature of the Faculty Career: Definitional Challenges
Mid-Career Stage Criteria
Strategies and Interventions: Supporting Mid-Career Faculty
Elements and Benefits of Institutional Strategies
Post-Tenure Review
Mentoring
Programs for Faculty Renewal and Development
Women Faculty in the Academy
Summary of 2000s Literature
2010s: Barriers, Vulnerable Faculty, and Interventions
Barriers to Advancement
Lack of Clarity
Lack of Resources
Vulnerable Faculty Populations
Interventions for Faculty Support
Summary of 2010s Literature
Mid-Career Faculty: A Research and Practice Agenda Moving Forward
Intentionality Across Contexts and Relationships
Leadership Development
Support to Help Mid-Career Faculty Manage the Evolving Nature of Higher Education
Mid-Career Faculty: A Call to Action in 2020 and Beyond
Need 1: Implement a National Database of Postsecondary Faculty and Instructional Staff
Need 2: Examine Intersectional Issues
Need 3: Support Nontenure Track Faculty at Mid-Career Stage
Need 4: Methodological Approaches
Concluding Thoughts
References
10 Four Decades of Performance Funding and Counting
Introduction
Definition and Prevalence
Main Features of Performance Funding
Brief History of Performance Funding
Theoretical Logic of Performance Funding
New Public Management
Resource Dependence Theory
Principal-Agent Theory
Neoliberalism
Ecology of Games
Establishment of Performance Funding
Adoption of Performance Funding Policies
Advocates of Performance Funding and Evidence Usage
Policy Implementation and Campus Responses
Intended Institutional Responses in Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee
Unintended Institutional Responses in Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee
Challenges to Implementation in Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee
Policy Awareness and Campus Responses in Washington State
Campus Implementation in Ohio and Pennsylvania
Campus Responses to Equity Metrics in Ohio and Pennsylvania
Policy Evaluation
Policy Evaluation Considerations
Four-Year College Completion Outcomes
Two-Year College Completion Outcomes
Meta-Analysis on Outcomes and Access
Outcomes Specific to Minority Serving Institutions
Access and Admissions Outcomes
Equity Metrics and Enrollment Outcomes at Four-Year Colleges
Performance Funding Impacts on Institutional Finances
Summary of Literature on Performance Funding
Equity Considerations in Performance Funding
General Comments on Research Design of Performance Funding Studies
Evidence of Limited Impact on Degree Completion
International Perspective on Performance Funding
The Future of Performance Funding
Performance Funding During an Economic Recession
Areas of Future Research for Performance Funding
Methodological Considerations
Conclusion
References
11 US Higher Education Internationalization Through an Equity-Driven Lens
Defining Internationalization
An Equity-Driven Internationalization Lens
Integrating Equity-Driven Conceptual and Theoretical Perspectives
De-/constructing Internationalization
Defining the Sociohistorical Context
Connecting to Contemporary Forces of Globalization
Sociohistorical and Contemporary Influences on Internationalization Research
Sociohistorical Context: US HE Internationalization as National Strategy
Contemporary Globalization Forces: US HE Internationalization as Institutional Strategy
Understanding Internationalization Research Through an Equity-Driven Lens
Educating International Students
International Higher Education Partnerships and Research Activities
US Involvement in Transnational Education
Study Abroad as High-Impact Practice
Strategizing Internationalization at Home (IaH)
Moving Forward: Equity-Driven Internationalization Research
Conceptual and Theoretical Perspectives
De-/constructing Internationalization
Sociohistorical Context
Contemporary Forces of Globalization
Research-Informed Equity-Driven Internationalization Practice and Policy
Conclusion
References
12 Understanding the Complexities of Experimental Analysis in the Context of Higher Education
Why Conduct Experiments?
Logic of Experiments
Defining and Categorizing Experimental Analyses
Important Issues in Experimental Design
Units of Randomization
Pretesting and Longitudinal Designs
Multisite Trials
Treatment Arms
Preregistration
The Mathematics of Experiments
Random Assignment
Blocking
Covariate Balance Check
Cluster Randomized Control Trials
Compliance to Treatment Assignment
Attrition
Attrition Can Cause Problems
When Should We Worry About Attrition?
How to Counter Attrition
Dropping Observations Due to Missing Covariates
Examples in the Higher Education RCT Literature
Assessing Fidelity of Treatment Implementation
SUTVA
SUTVA Violations
Dealing with SUTVA
Contamination
Statistical Power Analysis
Minimum Detectable Effect Size
Power in Cluster RCTs
Tools to Assist with Power Calculations
Examples of Power Discussions in the Higher Education RCT Literature
Limitations in Conducting RCTs
Ethical Concerns
Understanding Mechanisms
Experimental Effects
Conclusion
References
Contents of Previous Five Volumes
Index

Citation preview

Laura W. Perna Editor

Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research Volume 36

Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research Volume 36 Series Editor Laura W. Perna University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA, USA

Published annually since 1985, the Handbook series provides a compendium of thorough and integrative literature reviews on a diverse array of topics of interest to the higher education scholarly and policy communities. Each chapter provides a comprehensive review of research findings on a selected topic, critiques the research literature in terms of its conceptual and methodological rigor, and sets forth an agenda for future research intended to advance knowledge on the chosen topic. The Handbook focuses on a comprehensive set of central areas of study in higher education that encompasses the salient dimensions of scholarly and policy inquiries undertaken in the international higher education community. Each annual volume contains chapters on such diverse topics as research on college students and faculty, organization and administration, curriculum and instruction, policy, diversity issues, economics and finance, history and philosophy, community colleges, advances in research methodology, and more. The series is fortunate to have attracted annual contributions from distinguished scholars throughout the world. More information about this series at http://www.springer.com/series/6028

Laura W. Perna Editor

Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research Volume 36

With 17 Figures and 9 Tables

Editor Laura W. Perna University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA, USA

ISSN 0882-4126 ISSN 2215-1664 (electronic) ISBN 978-3-030-44006-0 ISBN 978-3-030-44007-7 (eBook) ISBN 978-3-030-44008-4 (print and electronic bundle) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-44007-7 © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors, and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. This Springer imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG. The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland

Preface

Like the preceding volumes in this series, Vol. 36 of Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research offers an invaluable collection of thorough reviews of research on topics that are of critical importance to higher education policy, practice, and research. Each of the chapters in this volume represents an important contribution to knowledge. Individually and collectively, the chapters provide in-depth examinations of the state of knowledge on topics that are highly relevant in this current time. Together, these chapters offer important insights into current issues pertaining to: college students; faculty; diversity; organization and administration; community colleges; teaching, learning, and curriculum; economics and finance; policy; history and philosophy; and research methodology. This annual publication would not be possible without the intellectual leadership of the excellent associate editors. For Vol. 36, these exceptionally talented scholars and research mentors are: Ann Austin, Nicholas Bowman, Linda Eisenmann, Pamela Eddy, Nicholas Hillman, Shouping Hu, Adrianna Kezar, Anna Neumann, AnneMarie Nuñez, and Marvin Titus. Over the course of a year or more, the associate editors and I each worked closely with an invited author to develop, produce, and refine the included chapters. Chapters in this volume advance research-based knowledge of how to promote success for queer and trans college students (Jason Garvey and C.V. Dolan) and adult students in community colleges (Peter Bahr, Claire Boeck, and Phyllis Cummins). These chapters also establish the state of knowledge of student activism in higher education (Samuel Museus and Brenda Jimenez Sifuentez), college readiness policies (Christine Mokher), and performance funding policies (Amy Li). Chapters also offer a Black feminist critique of college “choice” theories and research (Channel McLewis), identify patterns in the study of academic learning in US higher education journals (Lisa Lattuca), provide an updated review of doctoral student socialization and professional development (James Antony and Tamara Schaps), offer a mid-career faculty agenda (Vicki Baker and Caroline Manning), propose an equitydriven framework for understanding internationalization of US higher education (Chrystal George Mwangi and Christina Yao), and assess the use of experimental analysis in higher education research (Brent Evans). Each chapter offers a comprehensive review of research findings on the selected topic, critiques the research

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literature in terms of its conceptual and methodological rigor, and offers an agenda for future research that will further advance knowledge on the chosen topic. Following the tradition of past volumes, this volume also includes an autobiographic essay by William Tierney, University Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California. In his essay, Professor Tierney offers a thoughtful and candid reflection on how he has approached academic life over the course of his distinguished career and raises questions for us to consider as we think about our own academic lives into the future. He also discusses issues that have been central to his academic work over time (organizations and culture, equity, theory and methodology, universities as organizations that advance democracy) and stresses the importance of considering what colleges and universities throughout the world can do to bolster democracy and defeat fascism. Volume 36 builds on a long and strong history of outstanding scholarly contributions. The first volume in this series was published in 1985. John C. Smart served as editor of the series through Vol. 26, when Michael B. Paulsen joined him as co-editor. After co-editing Vols. 26 and 27 with John, Mike served as the sole editor through Vol. 33. I am deeply honored that Mike invited me to serve as co-editor with him for Vol. 34, and that I have the privilege of serving as sole editor beginning with Vol. 35. I am grateful for the time, effort, and engagement that the authors and associate editors have invested in producing these important scholarly contributions. With these efforts, the chapters in this volume, like those in prior volumes, provide the foundation for the next generation of research on these important issues. In this volume, associate editors were responsible for working with the following chapters and authors: Ann Austin, “A Mid-Career Faculty Agenda,” by Vicki L. Baker and Caroline E.N. Manning Nicholas A. Bowman, “Queer and Trans College Student Success,” by Jason C. Garvey and C.V. Dolan Pamela Eddy, “Strengthening Outcomes of Adult Students in Community Colleges,” by Peter Riley Bahr, Claire A. Boeck, and Phyllis A. Cummins Nicholas Hillman, “Understanding the Complexities of Experimental Analysis in the Context of Higher Education,” by Brent Joseph Evans Shouping Hu, “Reforming Transitions from High School to Higher Education,” by Christine G. Mokher Adrianna Kezar, “Toward a Critical Social Movements Studies,” by Samuel D. Museus and Brenda Jimenez Sifuentez Anna Neumann, “Patterns in the Study of Academic Learning in US Higher Education Journals, 2005–2020,” by Lisa R. Lattuca Anne-Marie Nuñez, “The Limits of Choice: A Black Feminist Critique of College “Choice” Theories and Research,” by Channel C. McLewis Marvin Titus, “Four Decades of Performance Funding and Counting,” by Amy Y. Li

Preface

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I had the privilege of working with authors of the following chapters: “Forward March: Living an Academic Life,” by William G. Tierney “The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same,” by James Soto Antony and Tamara Lynn Schaps “US Higher Education Internationalization Through an Equity-Driven Lens,” by Chrystal A. George Mwangi and Christina W. Yao February 2021

Laura W. Perna

Contents

1

Forward March: Living an Academic Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . William G. Tierney

2

Reforming Transitions from High School to Higher Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Christine G. Mokher

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The Limits of Choice: A Black Feminist Critique of College “Choice” Theories and Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Channel C. McLewis

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4

Queer and Trans College Student Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jason C. Garvey and C. V. Dolan

5

Strengthening Outcomes of Adult Students in Community Colleges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Peter Riley Bahr, Claire A. Boeck, and Phyllis A. Cummins

6

Toward a Critical Social Movements Studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Samuel D. Museus and Brenda Jimenez Sifuentez

7

Patterns in the Study of Academic Learning in US Higher Education Journals, 2005–2020 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lisa R. Lattuca

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217 275

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The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same . . . . . . . James Soto Antony and Tamara Lynn Schaps

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A Mid-Career Faculty Agenda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vicki L. Baker and Caroline E. N. Manning

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Four Decades of Performance Funding and Counting . . . . . . . . . . Amy Y. Li

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US Higher Education Internationalization Through an Equity-Driven Lens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chrystal A. George Mwangi and Christina W. Yao

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Contents

Understanding the Complexities of Experimental Analysis in the Context of Higher Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Brent Joseph Evans

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Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Contents of Previous Five Volumes

About the Editor

Laura W. Perna is vice provost for faculty, GSE Centennial presidential professor of education, and executive director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (AHEAD) at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). Her research uses various methodological approaches to identify how social structures, educational practices, and public policies promote and limit college access and success, particularly for groups that are underrepresented in higher education. Recent publications include Improving Research-Based Knowledge of College Promise Programs (with Edward Smith, 2020, AERA), Taking It to the Streets: The Role of Scholarship in Advocacy and Advocacy in Scholarship (2018, Johns Hopkins University Press), and The Attainment Agenda: State Policy Leadership for Higher Education (with Joni Finney, 2014, Johns Hopkins University Press). She has served as president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), vice president of the Postsecondary Division of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and chair of Penn’s Faculty Senate. She is a member the board of directors for the Postsecondary National Policy Institute (PNPI). Among other honors, she has received the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching from the University of Pennsylvania, Early Career Achievement Award from ASHE, Excellence in Public Policy in Higher Education Award from ASHE’s Council on Public Policy and Higher Education, and Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. She is also a member of the National Academy of Education and a fellow of AERA.

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About the Associate Editors

Ann Austin Michigan State University East Lansing, MI, USA

Nicholas A. Bowman University of Iowa Iowa City, IA, USA

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About the Associate Editors

Pamela Eddy William & Mary Williamsburg, VA, USA

Linda Eisenmann Wheaton College Norton, MA, USA

Nicholas Hillman University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI, USA

About the Associate Editors

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Shouping Hu Florida State University Tallahassee, FL, USA

Adrianna Kezar University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA, USA

Anna Neumann Teachers College, Columbia University New York, NY, USA

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About the Associate Editors

Anne-Marie Núñez The Ohio State University Columbus, OH, USA

Laura W. Perna University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA, USA

Marvin Titus University of Maryland, College Park College Park, MD, USA

Reviewers

Elisabeth Barnett Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, USA Cassie Barnhardt College of Education, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA Gerardo Blanco Higher Education and Student Affairs, Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA Rebecca Cox Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada Julie Edmunds Secondary School Reform, SERVE Center at University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC, USA Sylvia Hurtado Department of Education, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA Stephen Quaye College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA Robert D. Reason College of Human Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA Kelly Rosinger Center for the Study of Higher Education, Penn State University, University Park, PA, USA Xueli Wang Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA

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Contributors

James Soto Antony University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA Peter Riley Bahr Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA Vicki L. Baker Economics and Management, Albion College, Albion, MI, USA Claire A. Boeck Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA Phyllis A. Cummins Scripps Gerontology Center, Miami University, Oxford, OH, USA C. V. Dolan University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA Brent Joseph Evans Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA Jason C. Garvey University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA Chrystal A. George Mwangi University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, USA Lisa R. Lattuca Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA Amy Y. Li Department of Educational Policy Studies, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA Caroline E. N. Manning Penn State University, University Park, PA, USA Channel C. McLewis University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA Christine G. Mokher Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Florida State University College of Education, Tallahassee, FL, USA Samuel D. Museus University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA

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Tamara Lynn Schaps University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA Brenda Jimenez Sifuentez Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR, USA William G. Tierney Pullias Center for Higher Education, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA Christina W. Yao University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA

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Forward March: Living an Academic Life William G. Tierney

Contents Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part I: Constructing an Academic Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Preparation of Myself . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Preparation of My Academic Self . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Preparation of My Intellectual Self . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Developing My Academic Self . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Development of My Mature Self . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part II: Organizing Ideas for an Academic Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Understanding Culture in Organizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Enduring Challenge of Equity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . On Theory, Method, and Writing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Advancing Democracy and Fighting Fascism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Abstract

The text has two parts. In the first part, the author offers a portrait of how he came to be an academic. He offers a reference point for others that hopefully enables critical reflection about how one might best think about academic life. Part one has five sections: the preparation of (1) the individual, (2) their academic self, and (3) their intellectual self; the author then turns to the development of (4) his academic self and (5) concludes part one by raising four questions that academics should ask themselves with regard to academic work. Part two discusses four notions that have been central to his work: (1) organizations and culture; (2) equity; (3) theory, methodology, and writing; and (4) colleges and universities W. G. Tierney (*) Pullias Center for Higher Education, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 L. W. Perna (ed.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research 36, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-44007-7_1

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as organizations centrally concerned about democracy and the fight against fascism and how they can be ever vigilant about academic freedom. Keywords

Academic careers · Academic freedom · Critical theory · Democracy · Educational policy · Equity · Gay rights · Identity · Organizational culture · Postmodernism · Qualitative research · Writing

Introduction The year is 1983, and I am staring at a computer screen. I have collected data for a year and am about to begin writing a book (otherwise known as a dissertation). How did I get myself into this? I don’t know enough, I haven’t read enough, there are lots of people smarter than I am. This is a joke. I’ll never be able to write a book. I think I should go clean the fridge. After about a month, I calmed down and convinced myself that I could write a chapter; a chapter is like a term paper. I can do that. And then maybe write another chapter. And another. Maybe. Every book I have ever written has started in the same way – I don’t know enough; I haven’t read enough. And that fridge still needs cleaning. With my most recent book penned as I headed toward retirement, I was lucky to have had the space at the University of Southern California to draft the first few chapters. A month courtesy of the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, Italy – and then four more months in Florence, Italy, at the European University Institute – afforded me the time and reflection to finish Higher Education for Democracy. I started the book the way I have begun all the others: with fear and worry that I would fail. Self-doubt goes with the academic territory. Knowing what I don’t know, knowing that I need to read more, and knowing that there are an awful lot of smart people out there have made me a better scholar. And it’s kept our fridge sparkling clean. What I want to do here is think through how I have approached academic life en route to retirement. We often incorrectly assume that one’s approach to a profession is the way everyone approaches the profession. I disagree. We approach academic life in different ways based on a multitude of experiences as we grow up and as we experience academic life. Times also change. The process of writing a dissertation on a typewriter, the way my own advisor did, differed from my use of a mainframe. What my graduate students do today changes the way they experience academic life from my own encounters with academe. The assumption that we all deal with academe in a similar manner has harmful consequences. The “one-size-fits-all” mentality imprints on us that the way our predecessors managed academic life is the way we should approach academe.

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Since most of our academic ancestors were abled, straight, white men, the result is that implicitly we try to recreate the past rather than develop a new framework for academic life. If we assume that academe will be improved with a more diverse workforce, then we need to extrapolate the various ways people become socialized and learn how to be an academic, rather than assume that “my” way is the only way to a successful academic career. Thus, thinking through approaches to academic life is not simply a pleasant trip down memory lane but a way for us to think about the future. The point is not to recreate the past but to invent a new one. I will elaborate on this point below, but one issue that has confronted me throughout my career is that I am an introvert, and I have frequently gotten advice about how to be an extrovert. Not only is such advice anxiety-inducing, but it’s decidedly wrongheaded. We would not give a basketball player advice on how to play football, and we should not assume that what works for extroverts will assuredly work for introverts. “Go to all the academic parties,” I was told as an assistant professor, “and be sure to shake the hands of all the full professors so they get to know you. Wear your academic badge and mingle.” The advice was well-intentioned, but I remember thinking, “If that’s what I have to do to succeed, then I’m out of here.” The meta-lesson my department chair had given me, however, was that it is important to get to know people. What I learned largely on my own was that there are various ways for me to meet people without having to go to every reception at a conference and make small talk over pigs in a blanket. Such an observation is particularly important as we continue to try to diversify the academy. If we want more women in senior levels of administration, we do not need them to act like men talking about the weekend’s football scores on Monday morning. If hiring more people of color is a critical goal, then we have to acknowledge that there are various routes to academic life, and they may disagree dramatically from the well-worn paths of the past. Why hold meetings in rooms that are inconvenient for the differently abled? I divide the text into parts. In part one, I first offer a portrait about how I got here that is not intended as an instructional manual. Rather, I am offering a reference point for others that hopefully enables critical reflection about how one might best think about academic life. I do not think one’s life necessarily has to be told chronologically, but I suspect a linear telling will help the reader understand my constant feelings of inadequacy when I started writing the dissertation in 1983 – and when I sipped an expresso in Bellagio in 2019. Accordingly, the first part of the text divides into five easy pieces: the preparation of (1) myself, (2) my academic self, and (3) my intellectual self; I then turn to the development of (4) my academic self. I conclude part one with a discussion of what I call (5) “my mature self” and raise four questions that we should ask ourselves with regard to our academic work. In part two, I discuss four notions that have been central to my work and where I think we are – and are not – with these four ideas. I begin by summarizing my thoughts about organizations and culture. I then turn to a discussion about equity, how I have considered the idea over time, and what I have done about it. The third issue I raise has to do with theory and methodology, in general, and then writing, in

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particular. Finally, I consider colleges and universities as organizations centrally concerned about democracy and the fight against fascism and how we need to be ever vigilant about academic freedom.

Part I: Constructing an Academic Life Preparation of Myself Catholic Ideas There is generally not a one-to-one correspondence in terms of what one learns and what one does. I have many friends who were raised in the Catholic faith, and it made little impact on them or their subsequent employment. I have others who call themselves Catholic but do not attend mass every Sunday, believe that abortion is ultimately a woman’s choice, and have friends who are gay. I also have friends who practice their faith in a distinctly different fashion. My point is less that one or another idea is right or wrong but that one’s faith may or may not impact a child’s development. What one takes from the religion depends on a variety of factors that tangentially touch on one’s religion. My earliest memories, however, derive from Catholicism. Although I came to reject the faith, most of my memories of Catholicism are positive. My father was the second youngest of nine; my mother had a sister. I am the youngest in my family – and I was the first Tierney to attend a non-Catholic high school, although I attended St. John and St. Mary’s Grammar School. My attendance at a public high school created something of a stir in the family and was a further sign of the problems of the 1960s. I remember going to Sunday mass, to confessing my sins at Confession, and to being an altar boy. I do not recall the priests in our church very well, other than that they were kindly men who periodically gave me helpful advice. I experienced, saw, and heard nothing about the atrocities that we have come to associate with priests today. I particularly remember the nuns who taught us from kindergarten through eighth grade. My experience with nuns was the opposite from the often stilted, repressed, and isolated portrait of nuns that we read about in the media. These were smart, intelligent, funny, and committed women who had our best interests in mind. They constantly challenged us not simply to get the right answer to a question but to look behind the answer and think about why it was correct. I met a nun when I was no longer a practicing Catholic in graduate school, and we remained friends for 20 years until she passed away. Again, I cannot lay claim to a one-to-one correspondence, but I think being taught by smart women who spoke about important issues of the day made an impact on how I came to think about academic life. My parents were by no means liberal; one of them voted for Nixon, and the other voted for Kennedy. However, a constant topic of conversation around the dinner table was about the poor. I do not recall talking very much about social policies, such as affirmative action, but we talked a great deal about those in need and what were

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we going to do about it. There was a certain sense that we had a social obligation to one another. When I attended Horace Greeley High School, and the Vietnam War was in full swing, I spoke out and marched against the war. When it came time to register for the draft, I decided to register as a conscientious objector. I thought then, and still think today, that it is expecting a great deal of a young person to decide that taking another life is morally wrong. When I told my parents what I was going to do, they had me talk with the parish priest. More importantly, in addition to my father and my American history teacher, we had Sister Mary Luke, my eighth – grade teacher – be one of my advisors and write a letter of support. If Catholicism made me think through issues big and small, it also made me doubt. “Why” was the question at the root of many of my conversations. Why were there poor? Why is it acceptable to kill another human being? Why is loving someone of the same gender immoral? Curiously, the basis of my faith led me to leave the Church; I had been taught not to accept an answer based on blind faith. I also am not surprised, upon reflection, that I followed my two older brothers into the Peace Corps. We had been taught to think about poverty, and involvement by joining the Peace Corps seemed a logical extension of Catholicism, even if I was no longer a Catholic.

Being Irish-American My ancestors arrived in the United States during the middle of the nineteenth century. In many respects, both sides of my family resembled other Irish immigrants to America. The majority were Catholic and settled on the east coast, especially in New York City. By the turn of the twentieth century, the grandchildren – my parents – were able to graduate from high school and go to college. Education was seen as a way out of poverty and a way into the middle class. I never felt particularly Irish growing up or that my identity was all that important, but, as they say, a fish doesn’t recognize water either. As I have thought about my upbringing, three factors stand out. In the elegiac Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996) writes a fictionalized memoir of growing up in poverty in Ireland. Although I neither grew up in Ireland nor in poverty, one part of McCourt’s memoir rings true. The protagonist, a young boy, does not always understand what the adults are speaking about, but he learns that they are always talking. The Irish, as they say, have the gift of gab. They talk about the present by telling stories of the past; there is meaning in the stories, even if the young Frank does not understand them. My family revolved around conversation. What a child learns to be “normal” may be exceptional when compared to the rest of the world. Why would a child think that others are different from the environment in which they grow up? The world may certainly have changed with Twitter, email, and Facebook so that there is a better understanding of a larger world, rather than the insular one in which I was raised. We had a television, but it was largely something we watched for an hour or 2 in the evening, and even then, my parents, aunts, and uncles seemed to have conversations with one another about what was on TV, rather than watching it in silence.

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When I was around 5, I learned to read by my mother peppering me with questions in the morning as I tried to read the baseball scores of the newspaper. When I came home from school, my mother asked a raft of questions about the day. My father came home from work and sat down and asked me questions that he had heard on the news driving home. “What did I think,” he wanted to know. The questions were not a quiz with a right or wrong answer but a conversation. I learned that there were not necessarily right or wrong answers but that I needed to participate in the discussion. Dinner was around the table, and we talked about whatever topics my parents wanted to talk about that evening. I was startled when I went to a friend’s house for dinner one night, and we sat down and I started talking. My friend looked down at his plate as his father explained to me that we sat in silence and watched the news at dinner. Listening to people and telling stories were simply a way of life for me. I assume that being drawn to a method that revolves around listening and storytelling – qualitative research – in part results from that upbringing. Another part of growing up was that my father was an alcoholic. I am the youngest of three boys, and his alcoholism really did not become apparent until my brothers went off to college, I was in high school, and he took early retirement. He was never violent, but his drinking went on for years. The family had a secret which we did not talk about until very late in his life. One day, he simply stopped. I certainly wish he had not been a drunk, but it sure made me reflect a great deal about our lives. Again, I suspect that the task of reflection of figuring out a puzzle that has framed so much of my academic work in some way was fashioned by being an adolescent in an alcoholic’s family. Coupled with my father’s alcoholism was my love for reading. My mother fostered that passion by reading everything I read, all the way through college. I had an ongoing conversation with my mother about whatever book I was reading at the time. I never thought anything strange about my mom reading what I was reading, and it was fun to talk with her about the novel I was currently reading. When I was a freshman in college, my roommate asked me who I was writing to one day, and I mentioned I was writing my mother a letter about a book we were reading in class. My friend couldn’t believe that I was writing a letter to my mother and that I was writing a letter about a book in a first-year seminar. Again, a light bulb went on that how my family functioned was different from other families. I never thought that we were better or superior to others but that we were different. I chalk up these particular kinds of difference to being raised in an Irish Catholic family that revolved around dialogue and language.

Middle-Class Privilege and Safety We were a solidly white, middle-class family. The privilege that went with that was a feeling of relative safety growing up. I didn’t walk to school in fear for my life or that my classmates might shun me simply because of the color of my skin. My parents had money to pay for piano lessons and occasional trips for a summer vacation. We even visited my brother Peter when he was in the Peace Corps in St. Lucia.

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Solidly middle-class also was not upper class. During my childhood, my parents were never in financial distress, but they also assumed we should have jobs in the summer. As with all aspects of a child growing up, I didn’t know it then, but learning the value of work as a child was good preparation for the sort of academic work I have done. Most of my summers were spent cutting lawns and gardening, but I also worked for one summer in the Reader’s Digest mailroom. I enjoyed most everything about working – the planning about what I needed to do, the actual physical work, and the interaction with individuals. Making money was fun because I was able to do things with the cash, but actually the process of work was what I enjoyed. The other part of growing up in an Irish Catholic middle-class family was that education was important. After I finished grammar school, I went to a public high school that had a reputation as one of the best public high schools in the country – Horace Greeley High School. The greatest weakness of the school was the lack of diversity; we had very few African American or Latin students, much less faculty. But the overall educational experience was superb. I attended school at a time when experimentation was the order of the day, and alternative learning styles not simply appealed to me but excited a passion for learning. I had teachers who became lifelong friends. Curiously, one of my best friends was Mrs. Zook, who taught chemistry. I learned right away that I was not cut out for the sciences, but she had a way of involving students that was fun and exciting. I also did not have a typical high school learning experience. Sure, I had thoughtful classes in English and history that I loved. But there were about a dozen faculty who took some of us under their collective wings and had us to their houses for conversations about what my friends and I called, “Big Ideas.” There was never anything untoward that happened. We all knew, however, that going to a teacher’s house, sitting on the floor in a circle with them, and talking about the issues of the day were exactly what we wanted to do. They treated us as adults, and we acted as adults; we even got to call some of them by their first names. School and learning were fun things for me.

Forging a Gay Identity Coming of age sexually for anyone is fraught with challenges. For a gay teenager in the 1960s, the challenges were even greater. Another part of being raised in an Irish Catholic family was that we never spoke of sex. The less said, the better. Even with the hip kids in high school with whom I hung out, when we spoke about sex, it was always focused on heterosexuality. I do not think that there’s an “ah-hah!” moment when most gay youth wake up and realize that they are gay. Sexual orientation revolves around several ideas floating around in a person’s psyche, and, until the 1970s, what it meant to be gay for most of us was repressed and not discussed. I do not believe most heterosexuals can really understand the fear and, to a degree, loathing that a gay person in the 1970s had with their sexual orientation and, unfortunately, many people still contend with today. Navigating one’s identity cuts across most of what one does. As I shall explain, issues of identity not only became a research focus for me, but they also impacted how I approached academic life.

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Preparation of My Academic Self On Reading Since childhood, I have loved to read. I needed very little encouragement to spend time reading a book, and, as long as I can remember, I have had a book by my side. I also have been drawn to particular kinds of books. When I was in elementary school, one of my friends read all of Tom Swift, a young person’s science fiction. Tom Swift did not do much for me. I read all of the Hardy Boys – mysteries that involved two brothers as super sleuths. When I got to high school, my favorite classes were English and history. I received high grades in all of my classes (except penmanship!), but those classes where I was the class leader were English and history. During Christmas break and summer vacations, I read books. I also had an aunt who was a high school teacher, and she always gave me a book for my birthday and the holidays. They were my favorite presents. She introduced me to Dickens, Austen, Hawthorne, Melville, and numerous other authors. By the time I had graduated from high school, I had a much greater critical literacy than most of my peers. I never thought of reading as something special or particularly nerdy. Some kids preferred playing football or being in the chess club; I preferred reading. My time as an undergraduate at Tufts University in the 1970s coincided with faculties being unable to decide about what a core curriculum should be or if there even should be a set list of courses we all had to take. The result is that I took almost all literature and history courses. I regret, in a way, that I did not take classes in economics and multiple other areas, but insofar as I enjoyed reading when I arrived at college, I was like the proverbial kid in a candy shop. I do not know how I was able to read as much as I did – those Russians write long novels! But I graduated from Tufts with a passion for reading and an excellent grounding in all sorts of literature. I took two semester-long directed readings with the poet Denise Levertov on Herman Melville and Walt Whitman. I lived in a group house during my junior and senior years where the house advisor, Jesper Rosenmeier, was a member of the English Department. His specialty was Puritan literature and American literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I took classes on Asian, Latin American, European, and women’s literature. I specialized in twentieth-century American literature and reveled in the work of Kerouac and the beat poets. I took a Russian literature course where we read a novel a week. I forget exactly when, but at some point, I started writing down the books I read for fun. I tried to read three novels a month. I have maintained that pace through graduate school and academic life. Some months, I have read a book or two more, and, in other months, I have slipped to reading only one book. The discipline of reading has opened worlds to me that I otherwise would never have known. I also was able to think about writing.

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On Writing I suppose writing goes hand in hand with reading, or at least it did for me. I was encouraged to write by my teachers in elementary and high school. By the time I arrived at Tufts, writing was a normal act of expression for me. I wrote letters to friends and family. I liked doing research for class papers, as well as writing up my findings and opinions. I took multiple creative writing classes at Tufts trying to figure out what I wanted to say and how to say it. In that group house – Roots and Growth – the class requirement was to keep a journal. Final papers were not really work for me – they were fun. I rarely pulled an “all-nighter” because I discovered I liked to ration out writing as a process over a period of time. I started writing a journal in 1974 and have kept writing in the same journal ever since. In college, the only person who saw the journal was the instructor, and no one has seen it ever since. As with learning how to read, journal writing gave me three skills. First, I got in a rhythm that enabled me to look at writing as something that needs to be framed in a formal way, rather than just casually writing when the spirit moves me. Writing is not something I just do, like turn on the TV to randomly watch the news; I have to think about when I will do it and carve out time to write. Second, I enjoyed the experience; whenever I started to write, I did not see it as homework – something that one had to do – and instead looked on it as an opportunity. Third, writing was a way for me to think through different puzzles that I faced, whether personal or intellectual. Some people learn through talking, and that is partially true for me as well. Writing, however, always has been a thoughtful meditation which has enabled me to think through issues that were unclear. On Puzzles In a family that revolved around conversation and in schools, whether Catholic or public, where teachers continually asked, “why do you think that,” I had to constantly think through what I thought about a particular issue. I also came of age during Vietnam, and I applied to be a conscientious objector. Not every teenager has to think abstractly and personally about whether a human being should be able to take another person’s life. I am making no claims to be morally superior, but I think I grew up in an environment that encouraged me to think through puzzles, not as simply an abstraction but also with regard to my own actions. Obviously, the awareness of being gay also forced me to think about sexuality, in general and in my own life. Some individuals grow up with significant challenges, either because of their home life or the environment that surrounds them. Other children live in families that are largely nonreflective and consider the process of thinking through issues as unimportant or a waste of time. We all come to adulthood through various paths, and these paths impact whether we think academic life is right for us and, if it is, how we are going to live our academic lives. The puzzles that individuals asked me to think through, as well as my own self, set me on an academic path where introspection was critical.

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When I reflect on my life from birth to college graduation, very little of my life was spent pondering which profession I was going to choose. Neither my parents, my brothers, my friends, nor my teachers asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, nor did they point me in a professional direction. Much more of my time was spent trying to think about life’s great questions and those daily questions about how we should act with one another.

On Listening When I was a graduate student at Stanford, I served for a year or 2 as the student representative to the Faculty Senate. At one point, a faculty member came up to me and said, “You have the most active listening face.” He meant the comment as a statement of fact, rather than as a compliment or put-down, but I had never really thought before how much I enjoyed listening to people. At Tufts, I was the only undergraduate in a seminar made up of faculty and graduate students that was billed as “an experimental encounter session.” The class was very current for the times – “group grope” is how one person described it – and had very heated and passionate conversations. I found the confrontations intimidating but also fascinating. During the course of the semester, individuals pulled me aside after class and said some version of “You seem to be listening to what I say. Could I speak to you for a minute?” In part, people’s problems, issues, and ideas were puzzles for me. I was trying to think through why someone felt or behaved in a particular way. I also genuinely empathized with a person’s problems and realized that, more than being a problemsolver, I just needed to listen to them. People did not need me as someone with a solution; they just needed someone to listen to their concerns and worries. Throughout high school and college and then afterward, I began to realize that I enjoyed doing something that required a set of skills and was not something that other people did particularly well: I listened. On Solitary Activities I mentioned at the outset that I am an introvert, so I suppose it is not surprising that I prefer singular to group activities. I ran track – long-distance running, at that – rather than play a team sport. I favored working on my own, rather than in a group. I never lobbied my parents to go to a summer camp with lots of other kids, and I never thought of being alone as boring or a burden. My two older brothers are 10 and 8 years older than I, so I also did not usually have a lot of companionship at home. I had a fair number of friends, and we would get together after school or on the weekends, but most of the interactions were one on one, rather than in groups. I usually looked at social activities in large groups as a burden, rather than as an opportunity. I do not think those of us who seek a solitary life are in any way better (or worse) than those who are more social. I suspect, however, that those who are less social are more prone to academic life because, by its very nature, academe requires a great deal of time by oneself. Conversely, some of my friends who are intensely social probably would not enjoy the amount of singular activity required of an academic.

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Some academics, of course, particularly in the natural sciences, work in laboratories as teams, but even these teams require singular activity that is very different from the work required of football teams and the like. I have often suggested to new graduate students that they need to monitor their likes and dislikes as they move forward in graduate study. I have found that I may have very competent, intellectual students, but they do not enjoy the academic life. The norm for me has been to wake up in the morning excited by how much – solitary – work I have to do. During most of my academic life, I have had the ability to stay home at least 2 days a week. My husband, Barry, always worked full days at the Jet Propulsion Lab, leaving by 7 AM and returning by 6 PM. We also do not have children. I loved being home alone. I know many other people who would see that sort of monastic life – not once in a while, but continuously – as a burden. A mentor of mine once said to me that when an academic becomes an administrator, it is not a promotion but a new job. When a different mentor many years later counseled me to think about a senior administrative position, he cautioned: “I don’t think you’ll have a problem doing the job, but you’ve got to decide you want to do it. The life of an administrator is inherently social, and it’s night and day from that of the life you’ve enjoyed.”

Coming Out/AIDS/Barry Another central part of myself that aided in how I think of myself as an academic is my acknowledgment, first to myself and then to everyone else, that I am gay. I do not think most individuals have an “ah-hah” moment when they discover they are gay, or straight, or transgender. The world also has changed dramatically from when I came out. I probably thought about same sex desire in high school and began to act on it, secretly, by the time I had left for college. But even through college, I still had girlfriends and never acted out my sexuality, other than in furtive acts either by myself or with a very small handful of friends. Not until the Peace Corps, and later in graduate school at Stanford, did I acknowledge to myself that I was gay. Two occurrences happened during and after graduate school that helped frame my approach to academic life. First, I started graduate school at Stanford in 1980, and by the time I graduated in 1984, AIDS had become a major crisis. Perhaps if I had not been in California, much less the Bay Area, AIDS would not have been such a prominent topic of conversation. I not only had friends who were gay, but I also knew individuals who were dying of a disease because they were ostensibly gay. The discrimination that people with AIDS faced was something that resonated with me, not merely because I was gay but also because I was raised in a family where discrimination of this sort was wrong. Perhaps if AIDS had not existed, I might not have experienced the urgency of political action in the way I did. But coupled with the push for human rights, AIDS forced me to think through what being gay meant as an individual and what obligations I had to right the wrongs that existed in society but also as a young academic. Second, I also met, and fell in love with, Barry. I won’t go so far as to say, “opposites attract.” But, at first blush, he and I are very different. He is drawn to the hard sciences, and I am not; he is outgoing and personable and loves to dance – when

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I prefer time on my own. He also had been out longer than I had, and he had a better sense of what it meant to be a gay man than I did when we first met. For some reason, he has put up with me for 35 years, and he has been with me for every challenge and triumph I have faced. When I started teaching at Penn State, I was not entirely out. I recall a student saying he admired “how I worked all the time.” Although the statement was ostensibly a compliment, I realized that students and colleagues had an unclear picture of me – and such a picture was not helpful for graduate students. I have long claimed that I need to get to know graduate students to teach them effectively, and the reverse is true as well. The closet not only confines the individual, but it distorts reality for those around them. I raise these largely personal issues because they all have impacted how I approach my academic work. Again, I am not saying that all people who experienced what I have gone through would have acted in the same way in academe, but my experiences did frame my approach to academic life. If I enjoyed group activities more, perhaps I would have chosen a different career or had more of an interest in administration. If I had not been gay at that particular time, perhaps I would have been a politician rather than an academic. Moreover, an Irish Catholic family framed life in a particular way.

Preparation of My Intellectual Self Pine Street Inn I did not know it at the time, but working for 2 years in a homeless shelter for homeless men was one of the best ways for me to prepare for the academic life I would choose. I needed a job to earn some money while I was at Tufts. An alternative newspaper had, as an advertisement, “Interested in working with people? Call John Root at the Pine Street Inn, a home for homeless men.” I called him, and we made an appointment for the next day, a cold day in January. When I told a friend where the Pine Street Inn was located, he laughed and said, “That’s the red-light district. Don’t go there at night!” I got off the subway, and, as I walked the several blocks to Pine Street, the area got dirtier and more forlorn. I walked up the steps to the Inn, and there were men passed out on the curb and a few others passing a bottle back and forth. When I opened the front door, I almost turned around and ran away. The entrance led to a cavernous hall with pews. Because it was a bitterly cold afternoon, they had let the men come into the lobby to stay warm. The room was jammed with men who we typically see in ones and twos; they all were standing around, smoking a cigarette or just trying to stay warm. I found John Root, and he gave me a tour of the facilities. Downstairs was a makeshift clinic and the area where the men ate dinner and breakfast. There was also a large room where the men undressed and their clothes were heated for delousing. Upstairs was an equally cavernous dormitory where the men slept. There was a small attic where the staff – all formerly homeless men – slept.

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Root introduced me to Paul Sullivan, the man who started the shelter. He did not have a lot of time for me, but he said one thing that stood out: “Look, kid. You look like you’re a nice middle-class college guy. That’s not what you’re going to find here. And that’s fine. The one thing that will get you tossed out on your ear is if you don’t treat these men with respect. They’re on hard times. I was one of those guys once. If I ever hear you laughing at any of these guys or talking down to them, you’ll be done. Clear?” I nodded yes, and he shook my hand. For the first 6 months, I worked the night shift from 10 PM until 7 in the morning. I walked around the building to ensure that there were no problems, and for those guys who arrived late, if it was a cold night, I let them sleep in the lobby. I also drove an old station wagon to Boston City Hospital at 2 o’clock in the morning to pick up the drunks who were sleeping in the emergency room. I helped serve breakfast and then got them out of the building by 7. When I went back to Tufts, I had to hang my clothes in a spare closet since they smelled so badly – of smoke, urine, and vomit. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the work. I got to know individuals over time, and I enjoyed listening to them and talking with them. After a half year, John called me in and said, “We’ve watched you with the guys, and Paul says you’re ok. I’d like you to work the day shift from 4 to 10 and Sundays. Sundays is the tough one, because we let them in here at noon, and it’s only you until the other guys arrive at 4. Ok?” I nodded “yes,” and for the next year and a half worked 4 days a week. Soon after I started the new schedule, I was alone on a Sunday, and a question arose about whether or not one fellow was banned from the building. Paul Sullivan had slipped in a side door, and I went to ask him. He looked at me and said, “Look kid, we hired you to make decisions. You make the call, and if you can’t do it, then you’re probably not the right guy for this sort of work.” I nodded and made the decision. I soon realized that I was not really doing this job for the money. I liked listening to all these men, and I empathized with them. There were a few hundred men who ranged from 18 to 80. They were men of all races who had come on hard times. The assumption at Pine Street was that it was up to the individual to solve their problems, but there had to be a social safety net that gave them a place to sleep, some food, and a safe space should they want to get help. The two rules were no fighting or drinking. Anyone who started a fight or drank inside the building faced banishment. One Sunday, a fellow walked into the building who I knew was banned because of fighting. He also had a bottle from which he was taking a nip every time I looked away. I walked over to him, told him he was banned from the building, and that he had to leave. He was half-drunk, and he looked at me and said, “I’m not leaving.” He opened his coat and he had a gun in his belt. Foolishly, I was so angry about his challenge to my authority that I grabbed him by the lapels of his coat and tossed him down the stairs and out of the building. Everyone laughed and applauded. When I thought about it, I started sweating at how foolish I had been. I had numerous learning experiences, such as this one, that made me reflect on how to act. When I was close to graduation from Tufts, John Root called me in and offered me a job. He said I stood out because I never got pissed off at the men and was able to communicate in a way that most others did not. Other than the one fight with the

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fellow who had a gun, I never laid a hand on anyone. I almost took the job but opted for going to the Peace Corps. What I learned, however, was that listening to people was fun and interesting. In many respects, I was more comfortable at Pine Street than I was at academic cocktail parties. I talked with a range of men, and I was able to see, simultaneously, how different they were from me but also how similar.

Peace Corps Morocco I graduated from Tufts, and, a month later, I was in Morocco with about 100 other Peace Corps Volunteers. Although I made lifelong friends in the Peace Corps, I learned pretty quickly that I was somehow different from other volunteers. I did not have a particular gift for learning Arabic, but I was interested in understanding the culture of Morocco from the perspective of Moroccans. It may have been my experiences at the Pine Street Inn, but I approached Morocco less from a sense of comparing it to the United States and more from a challenge of understanding how they saw the world and lived in it. Perhaps out of this desire to understand Moroccan culture but also from a romantic notion that I was somehow different, I asked to be placed in a remote location by myself. Lots of volunteers wanted to live in a city and have a roommate. I wanted the opposite. I wanted a remote village where I was on my own. I ended up in Tahala. Tahala is a Berber village in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. At the time, about 1000 people lived there. They had just opened a high school, and I taught ninth grade English. There were no cafes or restaurants, and Thala had one street where I bought milk and groceries. My house had cold running water for 3 hours in the morning, and the electricity was on in the evening for a few hours. I was the only foreigner, and the villagers were unsure what to make of me. I spoke no French – the second language in Morocco – and my Arabic derived from a 10-week training period with the other volunteers. Again, I am not sure why I approached living there from the standpoint of trying to understand what was going on rather than making judgments, but my daily life was constantly full of interactions that forced me to think about how I could understand and communicate to people who were very different from me. I met very smart people, many of whom had never graduated from grammar school. I also taught students who, in some respects, were like typical teenagers everywhere – funny, rambunctious, and inquisitive – but they also sought education in a way that I had never even considered. School started at 8 AM, and many of them walked for 2 hours in sandals. Although my little apartment was modest at best by American standards, I looked like a king compared to most of my students who had one pair of clothes. If the day was rainy, they might walk for 2 hours and sit in class all day in a rainy djellaba and wet feet. I was in Morocco long before 9/11, and I had no preconceived notions about Islam or Muslims. I feel fortunate to have learned about Islam prior to all that followed the bombing of the World Trade Center. I knew how important religion was to people, and they were quite willing to explain to me why they did particular things and what those things meant.

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Perhaps the greatest difference I saw was the relationship between men and women. In 1975, the United States was in the midst of perhaps not a sexual revolution but certainly a rethinking of gender roles. In Morocco, there was no discussion about gender equality. Women were largely confined to the home, and their role was to be a good wife and mother. My school had a handful of female teachers who stood by the side and never talked with the male teachers. I had classes of about 30 students and never had more than a half dozen girls. A peasant woman cleaned the house for me, and she could never get over treating me like I was a ruler who never asked her to do anything – any question of mine was treated as a command.

Fort Berthold Community College and the Three Affiliated Tribes When I returned from the Peace Corps, I got a master’s degree in Education from Harvard in 1 year, so I started thinking about work almost as soon as I arrived in Cambridge. I did not know what I wanted to do, but a pattern had begun to emerge. I liked working with people and doing something that was socially worthwhile; I was never intrigued by making a lot of money or finding a job that was going to get me a career in business or industry. I did not disdain that kind of work for others; I just knew that I liked work that was interesting and fun for me, and it had to involve people who were different from me. I ended up with three possible job offers – to teach English at a university in Iran, to teach high school at a private school in Istanbul, and to work at a tribally controlled college in northwest North Dakota. The tribal college movement began in the late 1960s with the assumption that Native American students performed abysmally when they went away to college. The assumption was that they would do better if there were colleges on their reservations where they might develop a skill or transfer to a 4-year institution. The tribal council at Fort Berthold chartered a community college and gave them a set of trailers on the far side of the river. The president set out to hiring a staff, and, at the age of 23 with a master’s degree from Harvard, she hired me as the academic dean. Again, the lessons I had begun to learn at Pine Street and Morocco came into play. I was the only white guy in the administration, and I had to negotiate how to do tasks in a way that was successful and did not culturally offend individuals. I also realized that I liked to work. I liked writing proposals and planning tasks with goals in mind. Prior to Fort Berthold, I also knew nothing about community colleges or much of higher education. I did not realize it at the time, but, by the age of 25, I had accumulated a wealth of experiences that not many other middle-class white Americans had. I am not sure my vitae at the time would have made much sense to someone or that it made sense to me. However, looking back on it today, I see four very clear patterns that resulted in the sort of academic life I led. First, I wanted work, needed work, that was fun and interesting, and for me that meant working with people who were different from me. I liked trying to understand difference and to do so in a way that made me reflect on myself. Second, the trait that I had sharpened in college had stayed with me: I liked to read and write, regardless of the forced isolation in Morocco or the numerous proposals and reports I needed to

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produce at Fort Berthold. Third, I was less interested in becoming wealthy, and I was more concerned with work that was somehow socially engaged and aimed at changing the world. And, fourth, however much I enjoyed working with others and tried to understand cultural difference, I also needed time by myself. I was less a social animal and more an individual who needed to retreat to some sort of sanctuary, whether it was the attic at the Pine Street Inn where I had a solitary bed for those night shifts or my little apartment in Tahala.

Harvard and Stanford There was no great educational rationale for going to Harvard. I had been teaching high school for 2 years; a master’s degree seemed like a good idea since I had no idea what I wanted to do, and I knew and liked Boston. The program was quite unstructured and paralleled my undergraduate career. Through a combination of scholarships and a few small loans, the price was not extraordinary. I was able to take a variety of courses on multiple topics. I never avoided math-based courses; I just found many other courses to be of greater interest. Again, I do not think we could go back and discern any planned pattern of my course-taking in graduate school akin to what premed majors do. Many individuals learn in linear fashion. To get to step three, they need to begin with step 1, master it, then go on to step 2, and so forth. That is not the way I have learned or made sense of the world. I took classes in anthropology and sociology, as well as classes in education that focused on abstract ideas, such as learning communities and philosophy. I also realized that I liked to write. No one ever asked me if I wanted to be a professor, and I could not have answered such a question if queried. Part of the funny aspect of academic life is no one really knows what faculty do. Everyone knows they teach for a few hours, but what do they do with the rest of their time? I knew what I did not want to do. I did not want a job that was a typical 9-to-5 sort of employment that earned a living but was not personally meaningful. When I completed my master’s degree, I had no better sense of what I wanted to do than when I had left the Peace Corps. One of the massive social changes that has occurred during my lifetime is that I was not preoccupied about jobs because I knew they existed. Today, we have to strategize for work in a way that was unheard of when I was having my various experiences. What is curious is that all of my experiences have made me, me. Without them, I probably would not have become who I am today, because I never had a clear trajectory about what I wanted to do. I went to Stanford not because I wanted a career as an academic but because I liked to read and write. My experiences made me look like a good candidate for the institutions I applied – Harvard, Stanford, and UMass Amherst – and I went to Stanford because I had never been west, and they offered me a free ride for my doctoral studies. Even during those first 2 years, I was not really clear about what I was going to do when I was done. What I learned in my doctoral program was how I began this text – I did not know enough to say anything. Stanford was an environment where I learned how little I knew. I appreciated the experiences I had, but I was putting an intellectual framework around those experiences, and it was fun and frightening. I could not just say things. I had to back up my assertions with evidence.

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I always have been fortunate to find extraordinary teachers. In high school, I had teachers who became lifelong friends. At Tufts, I had a handful of teachers who quietly guided me and put up with my never-ending questions. At Stanford, I developed special, intense friendships with faculty who helped launch my career. Again, what was curious was the lack of formal mentoring that was provided to yesterday’s graduate students. I prepare students for conferences, coach them on which journals to submit articles, and explain how to go about applying for jobs. At Stanford, no one did that for any of us. All of our dialogues were about ideas. I spent a great deal of time at Stanford talking with Hank Levin, Ed Bridges, Art Coladarci, David Tyack, Lew Mayhew, and especially Shirley Heath. Perhaps those late-night gabfests with my high school teachers prepared me for such conversations, but I know I learned a great deal. I had to take a bunch of quantitative courses at Stanford, and I did fine – but I did not find them very interesting. I took a master’s degree in anthropology and learned that there were formal ideas to what I had informally done at the Pine Street Inn and the Peace Corps and North Dakota. There was something called “culture” and something else called “ethnography” which helped explain what I found interesting and how I was doing it. And once one had something to say, there was an endless number of conferences and journals where people could argue over “big ideas.” Perhaps academic life was what I was cut out to do.

Developing My Academic Self The National Center In keeping with my earlier observation about not worrying about jobs, I did not really apply to work at the National Center for Higher Education. As I was about to finish my dissertation, my advisor, Lew Mayhew, suggested I talk with Ellen Chaffee. She had been his advisee, and she had a research position in Boulder, CO. I wrote a letter, interviewed, and had a job lined up within a month. I do not recall feeling very conflicted about the job. The salary was adequate, and my brother and his family lived in Boulder. Ellen and her colleagues seemed like they were a nice bunch of people, and off I went. I worked there for 2 years. I learned a great deal about how to do research and write articles for an audience concerned about policy. Academic life is largely not concerned about policy. Our journals and conferences may have a central role to play in advancing the understanding of knowledge, and individuals in education may continually implore their colleagues to be more policy-relevant, but I have not seen educational fields be any more policy-relevant today than when they were when I completed my dissertation. Individuals are policy-focused, but the field is not. I do not think there is a magic potion that will change academics into policy analysts. Places like the National Center make a unique contribution to bridging research and policy and practice. They do not get lost in what they see as academic esoterica, and they have a laser focus on what policy analysts want to know and how to present

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data in a manner that is useful. Academics write articles that they think policy people should know. I do not think that I would have been satisfied only focusing on policy reform and implementation. I enjoyed reading widely, and particular aspects of theory intrigued me. The strength of academic life, at least for me, is the breadth the job enables one to study, read, and write about rather than the singular focus of arenas such as policy. For example, on the one hand, I have been concerned about what concrete steps we might take to improve college-going of low-income youth (Tierney 2015; Tierney and Duncheon 2015), and, on the other hand, I wanted to understand how critical theory might be updated to include issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation (Tierney 1991a). I conducted cross-site case studies of institutions facing economic challenges, so we might be able to inform presidents about how to improve decisionmaking (Chaffee and Tierney 1988), and I also did a life history of a young man to explore issues of identity (Tierney 2013b). I tried to create games where we could demonstrably prove that they improved the likelihood high school seniors would apply to college (Tierney et al. 2018), and I did a life history of a Native American academic dying of AIDS so that his history might be told (Tierney 1993c). Each of these projects advanced my academic career largely because I received funding for them and published them in reputable journals or academic presses. But these projects appealed to different audiences. I began to think about publishing when I was in Boulder and received a contract for my first book (Tierney 1988b). I learned that I am someone who wants to have a lot of intellectual arrows in his quiver. I liked studying different issues and seeing if they had any relationship to one another. Even if they did not, I tend to think that my understanding of phenomena improved because I looked at life broadly, rather than narrowly. Darwin once wrote about “lumpers” and “splitters,” and as academic life advanced, the distinction gained a great deal of currency. Many asked, “Which are you?” Your response placed you in one or another group. Lumpers create large groups for understanding, and splitters break down groups into discrete entities based on unique differences. Lumpers focus on similarities, and splitters emphasize difference. Lumpers go for broad definitions that strive for temporal and contextual incorporation. Splitters argue that time and location matter a great deal. A lumper might be someone who points out the reasons for why low-income youth have historically been excluded from going to college. A splitter will look at the current context and seek to understand the challenges Black youth face, and, upon further consideration, discuss the differences between men and women, students from urban and rural areas, and gay and straight youth. Indeed, at one point, we talked about the gay-straight divide and then added “bisexual” and now transsexual, queer, and questioning. Educational policy is more concerned with lumping – how do we create broadbased policies that can be implemented on a state or national level? Academics, especially during my academic career, have been more concerned in breathing life into previously excluded groups and thereby became splitters. What my time at the National Center enabled me to do, especially so soon after being in the rarefied atmosphere of Stanford, was to think about the interplay of generalizations and

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specificity. As with the lessons I learned in Tahala and elsewhere, I did not recognize it at the time, but this lesson stayed with me throughout my academic career.

Penn State University When I interviewed at Penn State, the Dean commented, “When I look at your resume you seem like a dilettante. Your work is all over the place.” I remember being shocked at his put-down but said, “I don’t think you mean that as a compliment, but I’ll take it as one.” I then went on to explain how my various experiences were suitable for academic life. His unsettling comment was a good lesson that I have kept with me ever since. All of us, but perhaps me more than others because my work has been eclectic and protean (and “all over the place”), have to help others understand our lives. Sometimes, we hear individuals say, “The work speaks for itself.” I understand the sentiment. These sorts of comments are usually done by my positivist/scientific colleagues who believe that research should be generalizable and it can only be generalizable if we remove the researcher from consideration. The work should stand on its own merits. We can argue the pros and cons of such sentiments, but ultimately no one understands your life. As an assistant professor at Penn State, I also began to think through how I would position myself as an academic. I had to write and publish, of course, and I had a degree of success in that matter as soon as I arrived (Tierney 1987a, b, 1988a, b). I had two books published, and I learned that the organizational skills I had put to use in North Dakota were transferable to editing. I was able to focus on writing articles, and I learned how to write proposals that gained funding. One of my earliest projects, funded by the Ford Foundation, enabled me to do a series of case studies about tribal colleges where I used my knowledge of the tribal college movement and got to travel to reservations and listen to the challenges Native Americans faced (Tierney 1991b, 1992). I also had to teach and advise students, however, and again, I fell back on how I taught in Morocco and worked at Pine Street and my experiences talking with and teaching people who were different from me. I have some colleagues who are somewhat cold and distant in the classroom, and they are superb teachers. I have never taught that way. I know that, ultimately, I need students to master the material, but, from my perspective, knowledge goes through one understanding themselves. My favorite question in class since Penn State always has been, “What do you think?” To generate responses to such questions, students need to feel comfortable with the person asking the question. I do not mean comfortable in a lazy way or as if all answers are equally good. People need to know that the questioner honestly wants to know your answer and that the environment in the classroom is one where we collectively are going to come to some sort of understanding. Although I have liked teaching, advising is what I have particularly enjoyed. I like working with a student over a period of time and seeing how their ideas advance. I learned at Penn State that the way to work with students is to spend time with them and that a relationship has to expand from simply reviewing a text to developing a relationship with an individual who arrives to a meeting with a multitude of feelings and concerns. What I figured out at Penn State is that we need to understand one

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another. To do that, I need to be able to understand students as individuals, and they need to see me as more than simply a professor who has a particular set of knowledge that they want. To work from such an assumption requires a great deal more time that simply setting an office hour and answering yes-no questions. The time, however, is among the most rewarding experiences I have had in academe, especially when I have co-authored articles and books with some first-rate graduate students who subsequently join the professorate (Duncheon and Tierney 2013, 2014; Iloh and Tierney 2014; Kolluri and Tierney 2018, 2019; Lanford and Tierney 2016, 2018; Relles and Tierney 2013; Sablan and Tierney 2014, 2016; Tichavakunda and Tierney 2018; Tierney and Almeida 2017; Tierney and Clemens 2011, 2012; Tierney and Colyar 2006; Tierney and Corwin 2007; Tierney and Hallett 2010, 2012; Tierney and Holley 2008; Tierney and Jun 2001; Tierney and Lanford 2014, 2015, 2016; Tierney and Lechuga 2005, 2010; Tierney and Venegas 2009; Tierney and Ward 2017). Academic life gets defined as a triad of activities – research, teaching, and service – and we all know intuitively what that means. Service is often the weak leg of the stool, and everyone likes to bemoan service as unimportant and a waste of one’s time. I appreciate the easy observation because most individuals think of service as being on committees where people talk (and talk) and not much gets decided. I have sat on my fair share of such committees, and I have firsthand observation that those sorts of activities can be a major waste of one’s time, whether done on campus or for professional associations. However, most of my service has been extremely rewarding. Any university confronts issues that are conflictual, tendentious, and professionally dangerous. That is, if one is to get involved on an issue where people have heated opinions, then the potential exists that whomever you disagree with could harbor resentment against those with whom they disagree. I do not like conflict, but I also have learned not to run from it. We arrived at Penn State in the center of the AIDS epidemic. Gay rights were occurring in major cities, but certainly not in Happy Valley. The university did not have a nondiscrimination clause for gays and lesbians, and it had no policies about how to treat people with AIDS. The Board of Trustees was quite conservative, and the administration had little desire to take on an issue that was going to create conflict on the Board. I was a young academic without tenure, but perhaps because of a combination of my Catholic upbringing, my time seeing the injustices that Native Americans faced and my reading in critical theory, I quickly became enmeshed in many controversies at Penn State. Friends started dying from AIDS. Many of our friends were afraid to speak out for fear that they would lose their jobs or be harassed. I did not seek the spotlight; however, for several years at Penn State, I was one of the primary antagonists to the Board and president. I worked behind the scenes with a courageous new Board chair to force us to get a nondiscrimination clause. I worked quietly with senior administrators who could not be the face of reform but knew how to put gay-friendly policies in place. I forced the administration to start a committee that studied the gay and lesbian climate at Penn State, and I was its first chair. I helped students shape their ideas into workable actions that were confrontational

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and yielded results. I see all of these sorts of actions as one’s service to the university and profession. What I learned at Penn State was that I enjoyed most everything about academic life. I liked to write for various audiences. I relished my relationships with students. Whereas academic work can be too ethereal at times, I also found my voice on issues of equity that enabled me to juggle many different balls at the same time. I loved it.

University of Southern California By the time I arrived at the University of Southern California (USC), I had succeeded on a variety of traditional academic levels. I was now a full professor with a full vita of publications, and I had a healthy ability to generate grants and contracts. I was at a perfect time to come to USC – a young guy in his 40s with a great work ethic and a desire to help a program improve. In liberal Los Angeles, being gay was sort of irrelevant and, in some circles, sort of cool. The lessons I learned elsewhere all came into play at USC. I found that the sort of research I was doing was ahead of the curve and generated a fair amount of funding. Issues of equity and diversity were suddenly important in the policy world, and I was able to use what I had learned in Boulder to convince individuals to do work that was identity-focused but also policy-informed. I became the confidant for the provost and president, and I was able to navigate several academic controversies in a way that helped me understand how to create change on an organizational level. I started to get a solid cohort of graduate students who went on to successful careers in academe. Two lessons stand out for me during my time at USC. First, in working with the provost and president, I learned how important listening was not simply for doing the sort of research I did but also for helping individuals and the institution move forward. As I noted, people do not need someone to give them answers to solutions; they simply need a sounding board. This is equally true for senior administrators. Similarly, people are willing to take criticism if presented in a manner that enables them to hear what you are saying. Second, I stumbled into a form of action research that extended what I had been writing. I knew a great deal by the time I arrived at USC about why more low-income students were not going to college. I also knew about the strengths and weaknesses of mentoring programs and college preparation programs. Over a number of years, I created two programs for mentoring and writing for collegebound youth that were a form of research for my graduate students and me. More importantly, I worked directly with low-income high school students and found that the sort of mentoring I did with my graduate students and college presidents worked with them as well. A challenge in academic life is to find a balance between the academic cloistered in the library with their books and ideas and the change agent working tirelessly in the community to advance an idea. At USC, I found that balance. International When I was in my first year or 2 at Penn State, a senior professor who was on sabbatical was meeting with a student. At the end of the meeting, I saw him in the

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hallway, and he laughed and said, “I’m going to give you the best advice you’ll ever get.” I looked at him quizzically and he said, “When you’re on sabbatical, get the hell out of town.” Aside from his complaint about being called to campus for this or that meeting, his advice was excellent. During every sabbatical I have had, I have “gotten the hell out of town.” I first went to Central America on a regional Fulbright when I was at Penn State. My first sabbatical at USC was a second Fulbright to Australia, and then for a third sabbatical, I went to Malaysia. My final Fulbright was to India. I also have been a scholarin-residence for a month at a time for 4 years at the University of Hong Kong. Most recently, I had a month’s residence in Bellagio, Italy, courtesy of the Rockefeller Foundation, and finally I was in residence at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence as I headed toward retirement. Obviously, I have spoken at and attended conferences abroad as well, but I know that these extended periods of leave have framed how I do my work. Aside from my older colleague’s observation that staying in town lets people intrude on your time in ways that being half a world away does not allow, international work has helped me think how what I write fits within a broader framework (Oleksiyenko and Tierney 2018; Pathania and Tierney 2018; Tierney 1995; Tierney and McInnis 2001; Tierney and Sabharwal 2017, 2018; Tierney and Sirat 2008). All of my international work has primarily involved research. I have given lectures and spoken with primarily graduate students, but the bulk of my time has been spent conducting research and writing. I also have been fortunate to have lived in multiple locations. Unlike an anthropologist who focuses on the Brazilian jungle and spends the bulk of their career returning to the field numerous times throughout their career, I have tried to think through how my ideas fit from one country to another. My academic career has come about during the rise of globalization and the pervasive influence of technology. My first Fulbright was at the University of Costa Rica, and the only place that had Internet service was a room in the library where there were five computers linked to a mainframe. At EUI, I messaged my colleagues who were in offices at the end of the hall to ask if they wanted to have lunch. Globalization forced us to think about the implications for work, how neoliberalism influenced academic institutions, and what the future of the professorate might entail. Obviously, there are no hard answers to these sorts of issues, but what I have grappled with is how these sorts of issues vary on a global scale. Globalization impacts academic work in one way at the University of Southern California and quite a different way at Universiti Sains Malaysia, in Penang. Inequity exists in one manner for students of color in the United States and quite a different way for Dalits (Untouchables) in India (Tierney 2004, 2010; Tierney and Lanford 2017; Tierney et al. 2019). Obviously, my initial experience in Morocco, and, to a certain extent, at Fort Berthold, created the impetus for me to embark on cross-cultural work. I suppose being gay also has been foundational in trying to understand the “other.” I also have been fortunate to live with someone who is as intrigued by living abroad as I have been. Although my career has converged in many ways with many of my colleagues,

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one of the unique aspects of my academic career has been my international experiences. Americans, I fear, are all too insular, and our insularity breeds a national and intellectual hubris. Again, I have long been interested in how different people perceive their world and how they act in it; international travel and work, for me, has helped me foster a national and intellectual humility that has aided my work.

ASHE/AERA All academics have professional associations that, in some way, frame their disciplinary understanding of the world. The Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) and the American Educational Research Association (AERA) have been mine. Over the course of my academic career, I never missed a meeting except those years when I was abroad. I also played a variety of roles in each association – most importantly, president of each. As I look back on my career, I have three strong feelings about my participation in the annual meetings and one forecast. First, conferences enabled me to make some of the best relationships I have had in academe. Both ASHE, in the fall, and AERA, in the spring, enabled me to have coffee, lunch, and dinner with a constant crew of individuals who are lifelong friends. Conferences can be a long slog through boring sessions in hot rooms. AERA, in particular, with 18,000 attendees, sometimes feels like I am at Times Square at rush hour trying to get on the A train. What has made those meetings enjoyable is that they connected me with individuals in ways that a simple email could not. When I was young, I enjoyed going to conferences, meeting individuals whose work I had read, and discovering that they were just like normal people – some nice, some not. My overwhelming sense, however, is that I received an inordinate amount of help from older colleagues who were willing to read my work and include me in one or another project. As I grew older, I enjoyed just as much seeing my graduate students as assistant professors, trying to calm their anxieties, and finding out how they were doing professionally and personally in their careers. My second thought about associations and conferences is more troubling. My first comment largely relates to what took place in the halls of the conferences, as well as before and after the conference. The actual sessions for conferences were never very interesting to me, and as I have gotten older, they are even less interesting. Not unlike our academic journals, conference presentations increasingly seem to focus on trivia that a handful of people might be interested in, but not many more. As we have devolved into our own special interest groups, we have eschewed a sense of interest in larger issues that cut across methods, genres, and topics. For someone like myself who has tried to read broadly and write for diverse audiences, I find that conferences have become more focused on padding an individual’s resume than in broadening the discourse on a specific topic. My third thought has to do with the leadership of associations. Far too often, association leaders are either focused on one single issue or they treat election to a leadership position as an honor and do little more than put the title on their resume. The care and nurturance of an association is time-consuming and inevitably conflictridden. I also think it’s an opportunity for an individual to put forward a view of

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research, and far too often that is not done. At a minimum, the absence of leadership in an association is a missed opportunity, but more importantly, the absence of vigorous leadership leaves the association at risk during times of great change, such as we are now experiencing. The lore goes that, when academic professions and disciplines formed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, academics in a discipline such as economics decided that they should get together; some of them would read their papers to the others in order to get criticism and feedback. A group of 30 sociologists might come together in Baltimore; a few would have new ideas to discuss, and they would present papers. After the meeting, they would go back and rework their scholarship for publication. What we have today has little resemblance to such a version of academic feedback. Today, individuals go to conferences largely to pad their vitae for promotion, tenure, or advancement. I appreciate why things have changed, but given the cost of travel both financially and to the environment, I have to question the worth of conferences in the twenty-first century, which brings me to my forecast. The pandemic stopped a great deal of what we think of as normal life. Conferences came to a complete halt. Unlike the handwringing about online learning, I heard very little about what was lost by not having a conference. Couple that observation with the tightened budgets because of the pandemic and a general concern for needless travel because of climate change, and I have begun to think that conferences may have outlived their usefulness. I know that getting together with friends and colleagues was a highlight of my career, but I also reveled in keeping articles in file folders in my office when I started as an assistant professor. Times change. We need to think about a different way to encourage scholarly debate and foster collegiality.

Friendships One of the nicest surprises in academic life is to discover colleagues who become lifelong friends. Sometimes I cannot even remember where I first met someone, but I can look back and remember moments when I really looked forward to seeing the person. Mentors have become friends. Graduate students have become friends. When something good or bad happens, they are often among the first that I will tell. Yvonna Lincoln was a full professor when I entered academe and a person of renown. I was amazed she’d deign to talk to me at the first conference I attended, and a few years later, we looked on our dinners at ASHE and AERA as one of the highlights of going to the conferences. Estela Bensimon and I were joined at the hip at Penn State, and, with our husbands, we became a very fun foursome in New York and Happy Valley. Once we ended up at USC together, we got an academic divorce for far too long, and the situation was sad for us and those around us. A young fellow came up to me at a conference once and said, “I hear you and Estela are angry and not talking with one another. It’s not good for the rest of us. It’s like a family, and the parents are quarreling. Can’t you go to couples counseling?” It took far too long, but we are happily back together, sharing meals, travels, memories, and arguments. Some folks I correspond with seemingly daily on issues serious and funny. Michael Olivas, Ed. St John, and John Thelin are constant companions. I run

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issues large and small, academic and personal, by Laura Perna. A meal with Laura is what I think of as authentic; there’s very little phoniness when we get together. Closer to home, Zoe Corwin was a graduate student worker for me, then my research assistant, then my advisee, then postdoc, then colleague, and friend. I could speak of over a generation’s worth of graduate students. What many individuals do not realize is that the vast majority of one’s time in a graduate school will be spent with one’s advisees. A student arrives with an unformed idea and, 4 or 5 years later, leaves for an academic position having just defended their idea. It is very fun working with people in such close quarters over an extended period of time.

The Development of My Mature Self Aside from typical questions an academic must ask themselves about theory and method and such, I offer four questions that, in the final years of my academic work, I realized we need to ask ourselves. I do not think the questions have a right or wrong answer, but they are questions we should continue to ask ourselves throughout our academic careers. 1. How do you want to spend your time? Academic life enabled me to live in a way that suits my personality. I need time by myself to think through the problems I am researching. For as long as I can remember, I have been an early riser. I generally get up around 4:30 AM and am in bed by about 10 PM. I went to Penn State and USC 2 or 3 days a week, and I usually got there by 6:30 AM. I always wrote at home and most of my writing occurred prior to noon. I read assiduously and voluminously and obviously need time by myself. Writing is also an act that occurs individually. I know a great many people who are more social than I – and spending a great deal of time by themselves is simply not something they want to do. Solitude is boring. I also know individuals who love administration and enjoy going from meeting to meeting. Their days are full from the moment they enter campus until they go home. Even people who carve out time for themselves will spend time answering their email or texting individuals about a particular issue or question they may have. How we choose to spend our time helps us think about our lives as academics. I have always wanted to spend time by myself. I do not want to give an impression that I am a hermit, but I did not seek administrative positions in large part because I did not want to spend my time in a way that administration requires. Academics have different life cycles, and I have known many successful academic cum administrators who return to the faculty. The knowledge loss can be considerable; to stop reading the literature for a half dozen years in any field today makes picking up where one left off difficult. However, I fully appreciate that some individuals do not like time alone; other individuals change their views about time, and still others are

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like me. My sense of time and the pace to my life have given me great joy, and ultimately that’s what we want/need in our work (and personal) lives. 2. How do you feel about learning? Recall that my first dean said I was a dilettante. More recently, I had a fellow ask me to speak on poverty and education because I am supposedly an expert, and in the same day, I had someone else ask me to write a chapter on qualitative methods because I am an expert yet again, and a new book I edited says I am an authority on relational sociology. That dean would say I never learned my lesson. I am not going to argue that the choices I have made are the right choices for everyone. I fully understand how an individual becomes fascinated with one particular aspect of a problem and spends their life studying it. I only know that my life has ranged over a large terrain of social science, in part because of my reading and in part because of a particular issue that may have arisen in the field. I know nothing about early childhood education and very little about adult education, but I probably know more about elementary and secondary schools than the typical scholar of higher education. The connections I have sought and found with regard to college readiness demanded that I spend time in schools. I also believe that, over the lifespan of an academic career, change becomes more difficult and of less interest. There is a temptation to rely on what we have written and to regurgitate work that we have already done. I have sought a different path. Every class that I have taught a second time is different from the previous one. Even the final classes I taught at USC were about 25% different from the previous year’s classes; I had read something that was new and interesting, deleted an article for one reason or another that I thought was outdated or no longer worked, or responded to students’ interests. I recently had an edited book published on relational sociology (Tierney and Kolluri 2020). A decade ago, I knew very little of the relational literature. Fortunately, I had an ambitious graduate student who wanted to do a dissertation on advanced placement, and we both found Pierre Bourdieu’s work a bit stultifying for his project. We began a directed reading on the topic of relational sociology, then taught a seminar, and did some writing and presentations before we pulled together a series of essays. Reading new literature and heading into a new intellectual direction toward the end of one’s career may seem like a fool’s errand and a waste of time. I do not see it that way. My relation to learning has always been to explore new avenues rather than remain wedded to old ones. 3. How do you feel about disagreement? I have portrayed two similar answers with regard to time and learning as my career has evolved. I have always needed time by myself; I always have relished being able to take new intellectual avenues. On this question, however, the world has changed, and so have I.

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I have never been one to shrink from disagreement. I cannot say I enjoy a good fight, but I also always have felt free to express my opinion. I am not sure why I have felt comfortable voicing disagreement, but I have done it repeatedly throughout my academic career. As an assistant professor at Penn State, I was one of a handful of individuals who confronted the president about his lack of support for gay rights. I testified to the Pennsylvania legislature, in a room full of conservatives, for a gay-inclusive curriculum. I spoke on behalf of a more diverse hiring plan, and I chaired a university committee at USC that overturned previous attempts to define excellence without taking into consideration gender and race. I also have had disagreements with colleagues – as well as my dean, provost, and president – on more than one occasion. During my presidencies of ASHE and AERA, I encountered criticism for some of the stands I took. In general, I do not think it is healthy for any relationship to hide a disagreement. I do not think we should simply blurt things out whenever we feel so inclined, but I find the majority of academics are risk averse. They are more likely to speak behind one’s back rather than confront an individual. Many of the reasons I have heard over the years about why one cannot or should not speak up have to do with the cost of confrontation. Even though our institutions supposedly subscribe to academic freedom, where, broadly stated, people are supposed to be able to say whatever they like, individuals feel it is simply too risky to disagree publicly with someone. The result is that I often have been the one to speak up when others would not. Over the last decade, however, I have grown weary of arguments. In large part, my weariness has to do with our aversion to offend someone. I have written about how I suffered from microaggressions as an undergraduate and graduate student, and I am aware of many issues that trigger uncomfortable feelings in a classroom. However, we have reached a point where we are unable to have difficult dialogues. Part of the challenge of working on a campus during the time of a fascist US president is that students no longer want to engage in a discussion that they see as questioning their right to be who they are. Ironically, I often agree with the perceptions of these students. President Trump is a racist who has used race and gender in a harmful manner that seeks to divide individuals and portray women and people of color in a negative light. I am equally aware that many of his biggest supporters are members of the Christian right who have proclaimed that the pandemic, among many other tragedies, is caused because of gay marriage (talk about transference!). I have spent my academic life engaged with individuals with whom I have had serious disagreement. I have had to deal with homophobia at ASHE, AERA, and in every position I have held. In Malaysia, homosexuality is against the law, and, until recently, gay people in India faced imprisonment. I have not enjoyed these arguments, but my sense is that the only way to get through to individuals is by way of dialogue. If a campus stands for anything, it has to stand for informed discussion. That is no longer the case. Controversy brings with it the desire to shut down dialogue. The result is that many of us run from disagreement. I find the climate on our campuses today lamentable. I have always welcomed disagreement, and I have felt particularly adept at handling difficult discussions in the classroom. However, as

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I headed out the door and if I reentered that door today, I would hesitate to be the one who welcomes disagreement. And that is lamentable. 4. How do you feel when you get up in the morning? The question has little to do with if we have a cold, if we are suffering a personal trauma, or if we have a particular psychological, emotional, or physical problem. I am more concerned with how we feel about the work we do. I have never felt that the academic profession is merely a job, as if it’s something to do to pass the time or pay the bills. I know many people who simply think of their work as a way to earn money, and I offer no criticism. However, academic life is more than a job; it’s a calling. One constant throughout my academic career is that I feel excited when I get up. I want the day to start because the academic work I have outlined to do is going to be fun. I do not mean that every second of academic life is a laugh-fest. It is not. However, one question I always ask of my advisees is if they are enjoying their work. If they view all the books they have to read as a homework assignment that they “must” do, then over the long haul academic life is probably not for them. When individuals do not look forward to the work that is ahead of them, then it is reasonable to assume that they should consider a change in careers. Academic life is a vocation in the best sense of the word. The academy is a calling, and if one is not called, then a person should find something that they like to do. I have been fortunate to awaken in the morning with a sense of excitement about the tasks that lie ahead, whether I was a graduate student struggling to write my first paper or an aging professor trying to write this one.

Part II: Organizing Ideas for an Academic Life Understanding Culture in Organizations Research on organizations, in general, and higher education organizations, in particular, can be maddening. There is very little causality that can ever be ascertained – “if we do this, then this will happen,” and sometimes the literature asserts a finding that a few years later gets debunked or dethroned for the next finding. At one point, for example, “management by walking around” was all the rage. Managers should not stay in their offices, and those who walked around were in successful countries. Until they were not. Or Japanese management was all the rage because Japanese countries were so productive – a generation ago. Strategic planning was essential for any high-performance organization. Until it was not. Colleges and universities needed to be restructured or reengineered for high performance, and students needed to be thought of as customers. Leadership was all about symbolism and communication. “Effectiveness” and “efficiency” were the twin themes to call upon to evaluate an organization; then Management by Objectives (MBO) became the way

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to run a company or university, and then Revenue (or Responsibility) Centered Management (RCM) became the rage. Some will complain that a great deal of this research was neoliberal and based on market-based economies, and such a critique is partly correct. Others will point out that nonprofit and profit-making companies are different from one another and ought not have the same management strategies, and that, too, is correct. Still others will argue that much of the terminology creates a false dichotomy. If one does not adopt effectiveness and efficiency as a guiding strategy, then is one for ineffectiveness and inefficiency? If one does not think leadership gets defined by communication, then are we saying communication is irrelevant? If strategic planning should not be a guidepost, then how does one make decisions? These critics also have a point. The critics will counter that postsecondary organizations are among the most stodgy and inefficient organizations that exist and need to stop acting as if the past was a utopia. Faculty taught classes when they wanted and disregarded student needs, much less desires. In a digital age, faculty have to be more responsive. Campuses wedded to an agrarian calendar had buildings sit empty in the summer rather than generate revenue. When a president tweets, formalized presidential pronouncements once a semester now seem quaint and no longer what faculty, staff, and students need. Faculty and staff used to say with pride that universities are among the world’s oldest organizations, whereas today such a statement is a sign of institutional intransigence. Those who have attacked neoliberalism for forcing nonprofits to act like for-profits have not been very helpful to harried administrators facing fiscal meltdowns. During the 2008 recession and the 2020 pandemic, budgets were cut to such a degree that administrators needed to figure out what to do. Subsequent budgets did not restore institutions to a level of funding that they once had. The result is that institutions looked for organizational efficiencies. Even those of us who agree with some of the criticism about neoliberalism’s attack on higher education ask how we might respond when public revenue shrinks and tuition has been stretched to the limit. One can, for example, acknowledge that the bulk of classes Monday through Thursday is a faculty artifact, and having empty classrooms on Fridays is probably not the best way to run a campus. Some sort of plan about the future of the institution is beneficial for requesting resources from the state. Student debt is too high. I raise these issues because we can make a fair argument that organizational research has provided very few answers that have had staying power with regard to how postsecondary organizations should act. Depending on one’s political stance, we could go even further and say that the bulk of advice has been detrimental to the basic mission of nonprofit public and private colleges and universities. We are mistaken when we look to organizational studies as empirically driven work that seeks to provide definitive answers about how a modern organization should function best. The studies tell us more about how individuals see the world than how the organizational world works or ought to work. The challenge is that administrators and faculty need answers to difficult dilemmas. When a budget is cut, individuals are faced with the reality that the university could save a significant amount of money by outsourcing its custodial staff. Those of us concerned about

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outsourcing will make good points about how outsourced laborers are less well paid with fewer benefits than contract employees. The point may be well-taken and should be considered, but such a critique does not remove the concern of a president or provost about how to balance the budget. I have written about organizations, in general, and organizational culture, in particular, for most of my academic life (Hentschke et al. 2010; Tierney 1991a, 2008; Tierney and Hentschke 2007). As I look back on the work, I find that I have been most successful when I am working from a reflective, rather than a prescriptive, position. Reflexiveness has been a hallmark of my life. The challenge for those of us who study organizational culture is that our articles and books generally seek a policy-driven audience who thrive on answers. The first significant piece I wrote on organizational culture was simply trying to delineate the landscape to help us consider how to think about organizational culture in higher education (Tierney 1988b). I probably would have been better off if I had concentrated more on the cultural and symbolic aspects of organizational life and less on solutions for harried administrators about how to make decisions or even which decisions to make. I am making an overt assumption that leadership and decision-making are in large part a cultural act framed by symbolic decision-making. To make such an assumption might seem like I am rejecting data-driven decision-making, which is a mistake. Of course, there is empirically driven information that any modern leader needs en route to making a decision. But data does not create a decision; it helps the leader make a decision. What I think cultural research can do is not necessarily point out “good” or “bad” cultures but help readers reflect on their own organization’s culture and their role in enacting reform (Tierney 2014). I am suggesting that cultural research needs to be theoretically nuanced and methodologically sophisticated. I will expand on theory and method below, but we need more research utilizing a cultural framework where the author is deeply knowledgeable about theory and able to construct cultural work that is not “shotgun.” Far too much work in higher education is atheoretical and utilizes the simplest of methodologies. All too often, I have read work that says the author has called upon some framework that is in favor – postmodernism, critical race theory, cultural ecology, and the like – but after reading the article, I cannot detect how their “postmodern” findings might differ from someone using, for example, a rationalist framework. The strength of a great deal of anthropological studies is that the authors are well versed in the theoretical frameworks they employ and they are able to compare and contrast theory “A” with theory “B.” They have no interest in pointing out that a group or tribe acts better or worse with theory “A.” They are simply trying to work through how one sees the world through a particular vantage point. Such an observation is important because many of us see the world from our own unique lens, and we believe, all too often, that our view of our world is not only the right way but the only way to see the world. Cultural work enables us to see that the world is multifaceted, and, if anything, my view of the world is little more than mine. Leadership, then, becomes an endeavor where the leaders do not force their view onto others but first are able to see how others see the world and then try to move in a

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world with multiple perceptions. Reflexiveness is critical, not only in research but in how we lead organizations. The methodological concern reflects the challenges of the time. Speed is valued on every level. We expect our assistant professors to come up with a problem, study it, and then get the study published. The result is a research design that is short of data and analysis and frequently misunderstands common ideas, such as “generalization.” I have done a fair number of life histories, for example. What I have tried to do with those life histories perhaps results from the fact that I was a tenured full professor when I conducted most of them (e.g., Tierney 2013b). An “n” of 1 is not going to enable generalizable findings. For a life history to be a life history, the researcher also needs to spend an extended amount of time with the research subject. The writing of the text also needs to be empathic and interesting enough that a reader will want to read the text (Tierney and Clemens 2012; Lanford et al. 2019). Consider how different that method is from someone who interviews ten people on three campuses for 1 hour each and then writes up a text that presumably gives us not only answers to the puzzle that the paper is attempting to write but also recommendations about how the reader might act when in a similar situation. The problem, of course, is that ten 1-hour interviews on three campuses tell us nothing that can be generalizable. The theoretical framework will be absent, and, if truth be told for most readers, they will skip over the first half of the text, flip through the data, and head straight to the “discussion” section to find the recommendations. Such a way to read is the complete opposite of what I have aimed for in life history. The reader needs to spend time with the theory and read the data so that they come to care about the person’s life. My own standpoint is relevant, but it is not the purpose of the piece. Ultimately, then, for cultural research to be useful, the author has to be able to enable the reader to reflect on their own positions and what that means for their lives as administrators, faculty, or members of the community. We can still make remarkable advances with cultural understandings of academic life, but, to do so, our authors need to be more theoretically sophisticated than we currently are, we need to have a better understanding of cultural methodologies and terms, and we need the ability to spend time in the field and with one’s writing so that the reader will care about the text in a way that is antithetical to those who are simply concerned with quick and dirty findings.

The Enduring Challenge of Equity Social and intellectual activism came relatively easy for me. As a high school student, we worked against the Vietnam war, and in college, the protest against unfair national policies only grew. I also am someone who probably does better by experience, instead of just reading about something. In that light, I know that the time I spent at the Pine Street Inn, as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, and then as a young academic dean at Fort Berthold Community College gave me a firsthand

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understanding of the challenges individuals face because of who they are and the conditions they experience. Someone once asked me if I thought that I had been so socially active when I was young because I was transferring my energy as a closeted gay man to other causes. He had a point. I do not think it was necessarily transference. The closet, however, enabled me to think about “the other” and issues pertaining to identity long before the topics were current in academic work. I never felt tortured because I am gay or wished not to be gay. I think, however, that any gay person of my age had a puzzle to figure out, and they had to think through issues largely on their own. Why am I this way? Why do people treat gay people in this manner? Am I really alone? One of the most significant issues in the social sciences and humanities in the late twentieth century, and continuing until today, has to do with identity and how one thinks of and constructs “the other.” If postmodernism has any legacy, it is that, rather than smushing everyone together as if we are alike, postmodern theorists enabled us to concentrate on difference. The result was that we began to realize that women are paid less than men, for example, and that, for them to succeed, they should not have to act like men or that people with a Latino or African American sounding name were less likely to get a job interview, even if they had the same vitae as an individual with a white-sounding name. The point became, obviously, not to force someone to change their name from Carlos to Charley but to change the racist environment in which Carlos resides. And, too, gay people should be able to marry and raise children, just like straight people, because their lives were no worse (or better) than their heterosexual counterparts (Tierney 1997, 1999, 2000; Tierney and Rhoads 1993). A focus on the other and identity created possibilities and challenges. The possibilities pertain to cross-group alliances. On a practical level, at places like Penn State, there are so few of “the other” that all of us on the margins needed to work together. On an intellectual level, we also were able to think through where those of us on the margins were similar and different. Gay people can pass in ways that people of color largely cannot, which creates opportunities. Gay people experience being expelled from their families because of who they are; people of color do not, for example. The challenges pertain to what some of us think of as “the oppression Olympics.” One or another group points out the oppressive structures in which they exist, and a member from another group counters with their own oppression and how, presumably, it is that much worse. And in true postmodern fashion, there are those who refuse to acknowledge any similarity across identities. The result is that, if someone fashions a response to someone else talking about the challenges she faces as a woman in academe and a gay man points out that the problems he faces are similar, the point can be seen as a “pivot.” In effect, we are not here to talk about your problems; we are here to talk about my problems – and the two have no overlap. I have been centrally involved in these issues intellectually, as well as on policy-related issues. The first research funding I received pertained to documenting the challenges and possibilities of Native American community

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colleges. I published a great deal of work that highlighted the lives of Native American students and faculty on mainstream campuses (e.g., Tierney 1993d; Tierney and Kidwell 1991; Wright and Tierney 1991). Anyone who is not from the particular group that they are writing about runs a particular risk. Oscar Lewis (1961) thought he was doing admirable work in The Children of Sanchez through his ethnography of a Mexican family, but his book became a textbook case for blaming the victim for their situation because they presumably lived in a culture of poverty. John Steinbeck made a career documenting through fiction the lives of his friends in novels such as Tortilla Flats and Cannery Row, but, from a twentyfirst century reading, the texts portray his characters as largely a foolish bunch of drunks. For years, if gay people were portrayed on screen, they were seen as deviants, and when the time came for gay men and lesbians to be portrayed in a more positive light, they were always seen in relation to their heterosexual counterparts who invariably saved the day. I have appreciated and welcomed the challenges of portraying individuals who are different from me. My sense is that, for many of us, portraying difference is fraught with cultural baggage – but we should embrace that challenge rather than avoid it or run from it. I reject the easy assumption that only the person who is a member of a certain group can study/write about that group – only gay men can write about gay men, etc. I freely acknowledge how wrong someone can get a portrayal of someone from another group (or their own group, for that matter). I have done work on a Native American who was dying of AIDS, gays and lesbians in academe, Latino and Black youth in high school, Latino and Black youth in college, women navigating tenure, Latin American faculty in Central America, and, as I have aged, the problems that young faculty face. With all of these studies, and many others, I have been a border crosser. Most recently, I have done studies of Dalit (untouchable) youth in India (Pathania and Tierney 2018; Tierney et al. 2019). Obviously, there are ways that one employs “member checks.” I have had member checks so that those I have interviewed have been able to react to what I have drafted. Quite often, they have helped me understand where I was wrong or misinterpreted something in a way that was not entirely correct. I also have had several advisory boards primarily composed of individuals from the groups I am studying. One inevitably takes a risk when we study topics. I do not accept the idea that we only should study only what we know, or we ostensibly know, or that we should avoid risky intellectual terrain. If one’s work gets them to an area that requires new ways of thinking and mastering new literatures, then that is what the academics should do. Academic life has to be about pushing norms, trying to create equitable change, and finding breakthroughs on an intellectual or policy-related level that makes a difference. If we are not going to risk making a difference on some level, then why engage in the academic life? Equity has taken me in unexpected directions. Most higher education scholars spend their time in some sort of postsecondary institution, and I have certainly done a fair amount of research in community colleges, colleges, and universities, looking

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at multiple aspects of higher education. However, over the last 15 years, the bulk of my field research and work has been spent in high schools. My work on college preparation and access to college inevitably – at least, to me – meant that I needed to spend time in schools. Recall my old dean’s comment that I was a dilettante. I am certain that, for some individuals, starting to study a new type of organization when one is a senior professor is a fool’s errand, but I found it necessary, invigorating, and useful. The bulk of my research in the twenty-first century has focused on the challenges low-income youth face en route to college. I have seen far too much research that considers the challenges poor youth face in college, but we have no understanding of the environments from which they come. And by no means am I suggesting that those environments fit within Lewis’s paradigm of a culture of poverty. We overlook, however, that the sorts of students with whom I have spent my time have less “college knowledge” through no fault of their own. Capitalism as a structure creates an environment where some gain cultural and symbolic capital almost by osmosis, and others – those with whom I have worked – need it taught to them in a clear, deliberate way. Perhaps, for me, even an odder point of departure has been my work on games and access. After several years of overseeing and researching college access programs, I realized how labor-intensive that sort of college readiness program is. I hypothesized that if we created games, we might be able to reach a larger audience. One irony is that I am a technological idiot who has no idea how to put together any sort of software on any level, much less to develop a game that would be of interest to teenagers. Fortunately, USC has a premier laboratory that specializes in games, with a brilliant director, Tracy Fullerton. For about a half dozen years, we collaborated on games for high school youth. Tracy put the games together, and we tested them with various audiences. Individuals in our higher education center, especially Zoe Corwin, primarily found funding for the work, conducted a series of studies, published work, and refined the games based on what we know (Corwin et al. 2016; Tierney et al. 2018, 2014). My own conclusion is that games are not yet there yet with regard to widespread use that might enable a revolution in college preparation and college access. I am glad I did the work, however, for it was a logical extension of my work pertaining to equity, and it also moved me from my comfort zone. I do not believe that we should conduct research and write on any topic that comes our way. I also know that whatever I do has to be deeply researched, tested, and vetted. That has often meant that I have had to spend more time reading than many others and I have had to spend more time in the field than those who do one or another kind of research. As I elaborate in the next section, I have been less interested in tearing down others’ research and simply trying to improve my own. However different it may seem to do a life history of a Native American professor struggling with AIDS in the 1980s and to investigate low-income Latino youth playing games as a way to gain access to college, the underlying parameters of what I have done have remained the same.

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On Theory, Method, and Writing I came of age intellectually when fighting positivism was all the rage. A great deal of ink was spilled – when one could spill ink – over the problems of generalizability and the harm hard social science had done to minorities and women. Although I tended to agree with many of the assertions about the importance of one’s standpoint, as well as the problems with generalizability and the like, I was much more interested in what I needed to do, rather than in telling my scientific colleagues about what not to do. Method and writing, for me, always have followed theory. Ever since graduate school, I have spent a great deal of time reading about theoretical presuppositions of particular theorems and then thinking through what the implications are for education. My quantitative colleagues in education largely eschew theory for method. Their assumption is that the elegance of the design will enable findings that are valid, reliable, and generalizable. If we can replicate the sterility of the laboratory and repeat tests again and again with the same measures and sterile environment, the thinking goes, and then we will have a useful finding. I always have been able to hold two seemingly contradictory ideas at the same time. I appreciate the challenge of generalization, reliability, and validity. I also know, however, that scientists have made remarkable breakthroughs that have enabled viruses to be eradicated and medical cures to be found for any number of illnesses. Sure, mistakes and quackery happen, but that should not obfuscate the point that scientists following the scientific method have been responsible for scientific advances that have improved society. The implication for me is that I have been entirely comfortable working alongside scientists and positivists on large-scale studies when that sort of framework and method advanced what I wanted to study. Insofar as I have largely worked from a cultural framework, my theoretical reading was in the midst of the challenges many of us faced about positionality, identity, understanding the other, and the structural conditions that enabled and disabled educational opportunity. The master’s degree at Harvard and, in particular, my doctorate in education and master’s in anthropology at Stanford were steeped in the challenges that theory presented to us. I had the opportunity to read, and ultimately write, a great deal about culture, critical theory, postmodernism, and structuralism. My master’s thesis in anthropology was on the use of culture for two theorists – Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Pierre Bourdieu. I appreciate that reading theorists like Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Claude Levi-Strauss, among others (Sturrock 1980), can simultaneously seem like a task no one would wish on anyone because of their impenetrable writing but also self-indulgent since their work seems so far afield for those of us concerned about educational equity. What reading theory has enabled me to do, however, is precisely focus on the challenges we face with putting forward solutions that will improve outcomes for those who are most at risk. What scientists too often forget is the theoretical assumptions made when undertaking a social science experiment; what those of us in a naturalistic paradigm too often forget is that there are theoretical presuppositions that might support or refute the framework we utilize.

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How we understand one another, the structures that structure all of us, and how and why they change over time are the essential questions that have very few answers. And yet, because theoretical questions often fail to provide answers, we ought not assume the questions are irrelevant. Indeed, I have arrived at the opposite position. I raise questions of identity, positionality, and the like not because they have answers but because the answers escape us. Knowledge is provisional. Because knowledge and understanding are partial, we ought not to suggest that we have nothing to offer; rather, our findings are put forward with a modesty that enables users to adapt them to their own local and temporal contexts. I was fortunate at Stanford to read an obscure French anthropologist who, at the time, very few in education had heard of, much less read: Pierre Bourdieu (1973, 1977, 1986; Bourdieu and Passeron 1990). Unlike others, such as Foucault, whose work was admittedly a stretch for education, Bourdieu’s was not. He was centrally concerned with ideas of cultural and social capital and how they informed educational inequity. I was one of the first to use his work in education and have maintained an interest ever since. I do not want to suggest that Bourdieu’s work should frame all educational work or that he provides answers that no one else can, but his research, and mine based on his analyses, expands our understanding of what is taking place in educational settings. What good qualitative research should be doing is first making sense of an environment and then be able to portray that environment to readers in a way that is understandable and hopefully will inform educational policy and action. To say that one does qualitative or quantitative methodology tells us at least from which paradigm someone is working, but there are a range of methodological strategies at one’s disposal, and I have called on many of them over my career. I have conducted ethnographies, case studies, life histories, interviews, and observations and utilized historiographic techniques and document analysis. I chose each method because it fits the theoretical and/or policy-driven questions I sought to answer. When I use words such as “ethnography” or “life history,” the words mean something to me. Ethnography is different from a case study, and a life history is different from an interview. I do not mean one is better from another but that they are different. They have different intellectual frameworks and different approaches to how one conducts and analyzes one’s research. A primary worry I have today pertains to the theory and method that is employed, or not employed in much of our current research pertaining to education, in general, and higher education, in particular. Too much of our work is atheoretical and ahistorical, lacks comparative perspective, and is to I-centric. There is a certain irony that I express this last concern because I have pointed out the challenge of understanding the other and the importance of acknowledging one’s positionality. However, there is a tendency today to opt for an easy approach to doing one’s research: the assistant professor writes an article about assistant professors; the Black professor writes about the challenges Black professors face; the person who comes from a low-income family studies low-income students; and the queer researcher writes about growing up gay.

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We run a dual risk when we conduct such research. I want to emphasize that obviously one can study the social group with whom they identify. Autobiographical work also can be insightful and useful. However, just as it is incumbent for someone who is from a different group to clarify how one has ascertained the trustworthiness of one’s findings, the same has to be said from the person who is studying the group with whom they identify. Too often, the tone of an article is that “I have experienced these things, and now I am going to show what I have experienced.” Such an assertion may make for a wonderful op-ed or essay, but it is not research upon which we can place much trust. The additional challenge is that our research is too thin and we make too much of the research and end up generalizing. Generalization of qualitative research shows a fundamental misunderstanding of theory and method, and it shortchanges what qualitative work is particularly good at doing – providing what Geertz (1973) called “thick description” and enabling readers to understand phenomena in a manner that is not attainable through other methods. Quantitative research has gained currency not only because their methods have improved over the last generation but because qualitative researchers’ methods have largely not. If anything, the focus on strategies such as autoethnography and the casual employment of work that reinforces what the author already believes and set out to prove have set qualitative work back in the policy arena. Is there a place for strategies such as autoethnography? Of course. But these sorts of strategies are not useful for policy reform or implementation. Careful case studies, ethnographies, interviews, and the like, however, can provide extremely helpful evidence for policy analysts and educational reformers. An additional preoccupation of mine has been the manner in which we write. Perhaps simply because I majored in English I have had an interest in how one articulates what one wants to say. What I have focused on is not simply the writing style in which we present qualitative research but also the audiences for whom our work is intended. I have written in various registers – articles for academics, books for academics, but also general audiences, op-eds, essays, policy briefs, and fiction. Each form of writing involves a different writing style because the audience will be different. Far too often, individuals think their work has pertinent findings for informing policy, but the manner in which they write is for fellow researchers (Lanford and Tierney 2018; Sallee et al. 2011; Tierney and Clemens 2011). I have enjoyed trying to write for different audiences in different registers. A baseball pitcher has a repertoire of pitches. I have tried to develop my own narrative repertoire. My attempt at writing a novel helped me think about how I portray characters in qualitative research (Tierney 2013a). Op-eds force me to be economical in my use of words (Tierney 2018, 2019). Writing always makes me think about where I want to position my narrative voice. I do not think an author just “pounds one out” or “pulls an all-nighter” and does one’s best work. Writing requires reflection, time, and the humility to know that the best way to get to what one wants to say is to edit, edit, and edit again. I have not seen academic writing improve over the time I have been in the academy, even though the urgency remains for those of us who want to change educational practices. Baseball players do not think they can play basketball simply

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because they are an athlete, but academics frequently think they can write about policy or that their work has policy implications although they have not changed their method or writing. Different audiences require different messages, and that means we need to write in different registers. I have to admit that I remain troubled by the state of educational research. To be sure, there are gifted researchers, and some educational research has been of extreme utility with regard to reform. The bulk of our work, however, is fraught with theoretical, methodological, and narrative weaknesses. We seem unable and unwilling to think about how to improve them. Often, it seems as if the problem lies with the reader or the public: “they should read my article in the way I intended.” The good news is that we know what these weaknesses are so we can resolve them – if we so choose.

Advancing Democracy and Fighting Fascism One of my earlier books was Building Communities of Difference (Tierney 1993b). I was troubled by what I saw as assimilationist strategies on our campuses and in the nation that assumed if we were to have community, then we need to paper over our differences. I was trying to think through what a community means, what an academic community means, where our differences could be the organizing concept. About a decade later, I wrote Trust and the Public Good (Tierney 2006) based on several case studies I had done. I wrote about the role of trust in academic life as related to social networks, communities, and organizational communication. In the text, I continued a stream of thinking I have had since graduate school: how might one define and improve upon the unique relationship between higher education and the public. My argument was that trust was an essential ingredient for the public good to function as it should in a democracy. I pointed out that higher education was entering a period of rapid change which demanded experimentation and innovation. Organizations needed trust if the institution’s participants were to successfully participate. I have written about academic freedom for decades. (Tierney 1993a; Tierney and Lechuga 2005, 2010; Tierney and Lanford 2014; Tierney and Sabharwal 2016). I have pointed out its centrality and how it goes to the heart of academic life. What has concerned me is how we have viewed academic freedom and how it has been employed. People seem to have reverence for the topic – except in cases where they disagree. The “Ross Case” at Stanford, which is one of America’s first instances of academic freedom, would likely not be countenanced today because of the controversial nature of his language. As I mentioned earlier, currently people on the left and the right seem more focused on watching what they say so they do not run into trouble. Academic freedom cannot exist if everyone monitors their language and work because they fear sanction and rebuff. Although the social role of colleges and universities always has been a preoccupation for me, I could not have foreseen the current circumstances in which we live (Tierney 2020). The election of Donald Trump in 2016 was a warning sign about the

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health of democracy in the United States. His election also mirrored what has been taking place throughout the world. In part, we have seen a rise in populism and fascism because of the changes brought about by globalization, technology, and neoliberalism. I do not believe these changes have been tracked very well in higher education, and our response to the attack on democracy has been feeble rather than straightforward. Indeed, if we look at the past few years, my sense is that the media has done a relatively good job at trying to refute falsehoods and stand up against fascism. Some governmental agencies also have tried to fulfill their obligations even when the president repeatedly has rebuked them and tried to hollow them out. I do not think, however, that colleges and universities have done an adequate job trying to stand up for, and preserve, democracy. There are a number of reasons for the quiescent nature of higher education, and I believe it is urgent that we reformulate the public role of higher education in the advancement of democracy (Tierney 2021). A great deal of emergent literature is following changes in Hungary, the United Kingdom, Italy, Greece, and elsewhere in Europe (Furedi 2017; Mondon and Winter 2019; Stavrakakis and Katsambekis 2019; Verbeek and Zaslove 2016). The obliteration of the Republican Party and the rise of Trumpism in the United States have evoked an enormous amount of analysis. In India, the emergence of the BJP and the elections of Prime Minister Modi, and its emphasis on Hindu nationalism, anticipated Trump’s message to his own constituencies (Faleiro 2019). And even though China has never had a tradition of democracy, its moves are more in the direction of “strongmen” regimes that have significant consequences for democratic outposts such as Hong Kong (Lum 2020). I think of democracy as a system where a state’s citizens are able to participate in choosing and replacing their leaders by elections. Human rights are essential. That is, individuals are free to express their opinions without fear of reprisal, and protection of those who disagree with the government is paramount. Electoral democracy finds its counterpoint in fascism that appeals to the masses need for a leader to solve their problems. Recall how at the 2016 Republican convention, one of Donald Trump’s most quoted lines was “I alone can fix the system.” What we are seeing today is a democratic recession throughout the world. In 1974 about 30% of the world’s independent states, about 46 in total, were thought of as democracies. We then had a democratic growth spurt for three decades. Since about 2006, however, we have seen countries move away from democracy (Diamond 2015, 2019). Some even ask if “the world’s largest democracy” – India – is even still a democracy, given how BJP and Prime Minister Modi have governed. I have found President Trump’s behavior particularly troubling. He has repeatedly pointed out that his power is absolute, he is above the law, and those who disagree with him are either dupes or villains. Any analysis that differs from his is fake. What I have found disconcerting is that our colleges and universities have been relatively mute as the president makes an onslaught on truth. Colleges and universities should be at the center of controversies that seek to destroy democracy and advance fascism. First, researchers of all stripes try to understand the truth. Whatever kind of research one does and whatever method a person employs, ultimately the

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researcher/author has to make an argument about why what they are saying is believable. Ought not that organization, then, be able to articulate whether the government is putting forth truths or falsehoods? Second, our postsecondary institutions ought to be able to have dialogues with those whom we disagree. As I have written for decades, one central aspect of academic freedom has to be the ability to have difficult dialogues. If we all agree with one another all the time, there is very little need for academic freedom. Academic freedom, in part, enables those with unpopular views to study them, to write about them, and to voice them in the classroom and on campus. Although we can certainly debate the finer points of what constitutes speech not worthy of protection, the problem on our campuses is quite different. Too many individuals fear speaking out or engaging in difficult dialogues because such conversations are exactly how I have framed them – difficult. Our reticence to engage in respectful conversations that enable alternative opinions has made us largely an observer in the democratic recession and fascist rise. If we worry about offending someone, then we have very little to offer. College presidents fret about the sensibility of donors. Student affairs personnel want a particular viewpoint to be put forward and want to contain those viewpoints many see as racist, sexist, or homophobic. Faculty do not want their classrooms to erupt into warring viewpoints. Silence, however, does not mean agreement. Our inability to engage with and understand those whom support a president who has little respect for democratic institutions and ideas only furthers all of our alienation – both those of us who support democracy and those who seek to muffle it. We must ask what academic institutions can do to bolster and foment democracy and defeat fascism. What sorts of changes need to occur so that colleges and universities model the best practices of democratic life and aid in securing democracy in society? As a recent report from the Brookings Institution notes, “Democracy’s fate rests in the hands of people, and securing it begins at home” (Eisen et al. 2019, p. 13). What concerns me about the Brookings report is that it offered several useful suggestions about how societies might bolster democracy, but higher education was largely overlooked. Democracy is at the heart of civil society. Robust organizations in a civil society keep democracy strong. These organizations provide citizens with information to make informed decisions, and they are meeting grounds to hash out differences of opinion. Colleges and universities are one of these civic organizations that help preserve and advance democracy in civil society (Tierney 2021). In addition to my long-term interest in the democratic prospects for higher education, my comparative work has helped me think about what role postsecondary institutions serve throughout the world. The university helped build the modern nation-state. It trained elites and an increasingly broad middle class through the accumulation of abstract thinking. The university made the case for the democratic project. The faculty in Hong Kong’s universities, for example, played a central role in putting forward a modern conception of Hong Kong that was internationally

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focused. In many respects, Hong Kong was the first global city in Asia. At the birth of an independent India, Nehru wanted universities to educate the mass of society and also achieve scientific excellence with its institutes – none more so than those universities in the nation’s young capital, New Delhi. Los Angeles has looked outward to the rest of the country and to the Pacific region with its postsecondary institutions being among the best importers of foreign talent of any organization. Why, then, are our postsecondary institutions throughout the globe not arenas for the advancement of democracy? A century ago, a stance of disinterestedness enabled the university to comment on the social mores of society and, through a belief in objective research, bring about change. The democratic state encouraged universities to have an arm’s length distance from society in order to analyze and improve that society regardless of the nation where the institution was located. That distance and disinterestedness is no longer sufficient in a world where we are facing a democratic recession (Diamond 2015). As Henry Giroux (2019) has stated, “We live at a time in which institutions that were meant to limit human suffering and misfortune and protect the public from the excesses of the market have been either weakened or abolished” (p. 27). How did a public and nonprofit sphere that once supported the enlargement of democratic dialogue shift to a defensive posture that has made the university either irrelevant or endangered? It is ironic that a topic that might be thought of as esoteric to some individuals is actually central to the health and well-being of the democratic state. Those of us who have written about the public good are often seen as too theoretical and abstract. The immediacy of budgetary problems or the daily challenges that our campuses face from any number of attacks make it appear that worrying about the social role of postsecondary institutions is a navel-gazing luxury. I disagree. We have recently lived through a pandemic that the world seemed particularly unequipped to handle. Again, daily medical challenges and the array of scientific mysteries that confront the human body made it appear that preparing to combat an unknown, unnamed, and nonexistent virus ought not be a national or international priority. We now understand the human and economic cost of our lack of concern when the world was shut down in 2020. For those of us concerned about democracy, similar consequences await our colleges and universities that opt out of the fight against fascism. I have spent the bulk of my time since Donald Trump was elected trying to think through and write about how our postsecondary institutions might be more responsive to political attacks on representative democracy. I do not believe that, if and when Trump goes away, we can go back to being quiescent. The end of the pandemic did not signal that we should no longer worry about pandemics. If anything, a key lesson we learned from the pandemic is that we need to be vigilant and prepared for the next disease that attacks modern society. The same can be said in terms of protecting and advancing democracy. Until higher education figures out its role in the twenty-first century, we leave democracies in harm’s way.

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Conclusion How to conclude a concluding chapter on one’s career? If we go back to the start of this chapter, we will see that, once again, my doubt has been a motivator, and I have finished this chapter after all, albeit the obsessive cleaning of the refrigerator once again. I suppose anyone will look back on their career and wonder if they should have done something differently. I am happy with my choices. In this chapter, I have tried to make sense of how I made those choices. I do not think life is like a cookbook with a recipe that one needs to follow step-by-step to make the perfect dish. I do think, however, that one’s personal, intellectual, and academic experiences will shape how an individual turns out as an academic. Life is not predetermined, but it is not a free-for-all either. The experience of being raised in a middle-class, Irish Catholic family and being gay shaped me. The various experiences I had in my 20s mattered a great deal. Sometimes, I see how others spend their 20s, and I am thankful for what I did. I sure did not earn much money, but working at Pine Street in college, and then as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco and at Fort Berthold in North Dakota, shaped my career. I also have had a love affair with writing, and I learned to listen to people all along the way. I intend none of this recounting as gratuitous praise for my work or me. Individual pieces of scholarship should stand or fall on their own. If an article or book is sound, then it should be applauded, and when a piece is theoretically or methodologically weak, then it should be pointed out. As a body of work, I have tried to point out how the range of my scholarship makes sense intellectually within a particular time horizon. Kurt Vonnegut (1952), in his epic Player Piano, has a character speak of the human condition on the final page by saying, “This isn’t the end, you know. Nothing ever is, nothing ever will be – not even Judgement Day.” Vonnegut’s anthropologist spokesman responds, and he announces cheerfully, as the book’s last line: “Forward March!” I feel much the same way. I am at the end of this chapter, but I have to end not with a period or as if I tied all my work up into a neat bow. As I sit here, the galleys have arrived for a book that is out this fall (Get Real). Another book is out for review (Higher Education for Democracy). I wrote a second novel about 2 years ago, and a very tough, excellent editor tore it apart. I have to do serious editing. After that, I am not sure, but I do know that Vonnegut’s dictum holds: Forward March!

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Chaffee, E., & Tierney, W. G. (1988). Collegiate culture and leadership strategies. New York: Macmillan. Corwin, Z. B., Danielson, R., Ragusa, G., & Tierney, W. G. (2016). Can games facilitate access to college? In H. F. O’Neil, E. L. Baker, & R. S. Perez (Eds.), Using games and simulations for teaching and assessment: Key issues (pp. 230–250). New York: Routledge. Diamond, L. (2015). Facing up to the democratic recession. Journal of Democracy, 26(1), 141–155. Diamond, L. (2019). Ill winds: Saving democracy from Russian rage, Chinese ambition, and American complacency. New York: Penguin. Duncheon, J. C., & Tierney, W. G. (2013). Changing conceptions of time: Implications for educational research and practice. Review of Educational Research, 83, 236–272. Duncheon, J. C., & Tierney, W. G. (2014). Examining college writing readiness. The Educational Forum, 78(3), 210–230. Eisen, N., Kenealy, A., Corke, S., Taussig, T., & Polyakova, A. (2019). The democracy playbook: Preventing and reversing democratic backsliding. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. Faleiro, S. (2019). Absent opposition, Modi makes India his Hindu nation. New York Review of Books. https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/07/29/absent-opposition-modi-makes-india-hishindu-nation/. Furedi, F. (2017). Populism and the European culture wars: The conflict of values between Hungary and the EU. London: Routledge. Geertz, C. (1973). Thick description: Toward an interpretive theory of culture. In C. Geertz (Ed.), The interpretation of cultures: Selected essays (pp. 3–30). New York: Basic Books. Giroux, H. A. (2019). Neoliberal violence against youth in the age of Orwellian nightmares. In P. Kelly, P. Campbell, L. Harrison, & C. Hickey (Eds.), Young people and the politics of outrage and hope (pp. 27–43). Leiden: Brill. Hentschke, G. C., Lechuga, V. M., & Tierney, W. G. (Eds.). (2010). For-profit colleges and universities: Their markets, regulation, performance and place in higher education. Sterling: Stylus. Iloh, C., & Tierney, W. G. (2014). Understanding for-profit and community college choice through rational choice. Teachers College Record, 116(8), 1–34. Kolluri, S., & Tierney, W. G. (2018). “College for all” school cultures, neoliberalism, & equality. Tertiary Education and Management, 24(3), 242–253. Kolluri, S., & Tierney, W. G. (2019). Understanding college readiness: The limits of information and the possibilities of cultural integrity. The Educational Forum, 84(1), 80–93. Lanford, M., & Tierney, W. G. (2016). The international branch campus: Cloistered community. In Palgrave handbook of Asia Pacific higher education (pp. 157–172). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Lanford, M., & Tierney, W. G. (2018). Re-envisioning graduate and early career socialization to encourage public scholarship. In A. Kezar, Y. Drivalas, & J. A. Kitchen (Eds.), Envisioning public scholarship for our time: Models for higher education researchers (pp. 163–178). Sterling: Stylus. Lanford, M., Tierney, W. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2019). The art of life history: Novel approaches, future directions. Qualitative Inquiry, 25(5), 459–463. Lewis, O. (1961). The children of Sanchez: Autobiography of a Mexican family. New York: Random House. Lum, A. (2020). American photographer who covered Hong Kong protests denied entry into city. South China Morning Post. https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3044660/ american-photographer-who-covered-hong-kong-protests-denied. McCourt, F. (1996). Angela’s ashes: A memoir. New York: Scribner. Mondon, A., & Winter, A. (2019). Whiteness, populism, and the racialisation of the working class in the United Kingdom and the United States. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 26(5), 510–528. Oleksiyenko, A., & Tierney, W. G. (2018). Higher education and human vulnerability: Global failures of corporate design. Tertiary Education and Management, 24(3), 187–192. Pathania, G. J., & Tierney, W. G. (2018). An ethnography of caste and class at an Indian university: Creating capital. Tertiary Education and Management, 24(3), 221–231.

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Relles, S., & Tierney, W. G. (2013). Understanding the writing habits of tomorrow’s students: Technology and college readiness. The Journal of Higher Education, 84, 477–505. Sablan, J. R., & Tierney, W. G. (2014). The changing nature of cultural capital. In M. B. Paulsen (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (Vol. 29, pp. 153–188). Dordrecht: Springer. Sablan, J. R., & Tierney, W. G. (2016). Evaluating college ready writing and college knowledge in a summer bridge program. The Educational Forum, 80(1), 3–20. Sallee, M. W., Hallett, R. E., & Tierney, W. G. (2011). Teaching writing in graduate school. College Teaching, 59(2), 66–72. Stavrakakis, Y., & Katsambekis, G. (2019). The populism/anti-populism frontier and its mediation in crisis-ridden Greece: From discursive divide to emerging cleavage? European Political Science, 18(1), 37–52. Sturrock, J. (Ed.). (1980). Structuralism and since: From Lévi-Strauss to Derrida. New York: Oxford University Press. Tichavakunda, A. A., & Tierney, W. G. (2018). The “wrong” side of the divide: Highlighting race for equity’s sake. Journal of Negro Education, 87(2), 110–124. Tierney, W. G. (1987a). Facts and constructs: Defining reality in higher education organizations. Review of Higher Education, 11(1), 61–73. Tierney, W. G. (1987b). The semiotic aspects of leadership: An ethnographic perspective. The American Journal of Semiotics, 5(2), 233–250. Tierney, W. G. (1988a). Organizational culture in higher education: Defining the essentials. Journal of Higher Education, 59(1), 2–21. Tierney, W. G. (1988b). The web of leadership: The presidency in higher education. Greenwich: JAI Press. Tierney, W. G. (Ed.). (1991a). Culture and ideology in higher education: Advancing a critical agenda. New York: Praeger. Tierney, W. G. (1991b). Native voices in academe: Strategies for empowerment. Change, 23(2), 36–44. Tierney, W. G. (1992). Official encouragement, institutional discouragement: Minorities in academe – The Native American experience. Norwood: Ablex. Tierney, W. G. (1993a). Academic freedom and the parameters of knowledge. Harvard Educational Review, 63(2), 143–160. Tierney, W. G. (1993b). Building communities of difference: Higher education in the 21st century. Westport: Bergin & Garvey. Tierney, W. G. (1993c). Self and identity in a postmodern world: A life story. In D. McLaughlin & W. G. Tierney (Eds.), Naming silenced lives: Personal narratives and the process of educational change (pp. 119–134). New York: Routledge. Tierney, W. G. (1993d). The college experience of Native Americans: A critical analysis. In L. Weis & M. Fine (Eds.), Beyond silenced voices: Class, race, and gender in United States schools (pp. 309–323). Albany: SUNY Press. Tierney, W. G. (1995). La privatación y la educación superior publica en Costa Rica. Universidad Futura, 6(17), 49–58. Tierney, W. G. (1997). Academic outlaws: Queer theory and cultural studies in the academy. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Tierney, W. G. (1999). The queer university: Imagining the postmodern academy. In N. Denzin (Ed.), Cultural studies: A research volume (Vol. 4, pp. 19–34). Stamford: JAI Press. Tierney, W. G. (2000). Undaunted courage: Life history and the postmodern challenge. In N. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 537–554). Thousand Oaks: Sage. Tierney, W. G. (2004). Globalization and educational reform: The challenges ahead. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 3(1), 5–20. Tierney, W. G. (2006). Trust and the public good: Examining the cultural conditions of academic work. New York: Peter Lang. Tierney, W. G. (2008). The impact of culture on organizational decision-making: Theory and practice in higher education. Sterling: Stylus.

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Tierney, W. G. (2010). Forms of privatization: Globalisation and the changing nature of tertiary education. In C. Findlay & W. G. Tierney (Eds.), Globalisation and tertiary education in the Asia Pacific: The changing nature of a dynamic market (pp. 163–199). Toh Tuck: World Scientific. Tierney, W. G. (2013a). Academic affairs: A love story. Indianapolis: Dog Ear Publishing. Tierney, W. G. (2013b). Life history and identity. Review of Higher Education, 36(2), 255–282. Tierney, W. G. (2014). Higher education research, policy, and the challenges of reform. Studies in Higher Education, 39(7), 1417–1427. Tierney, W. G. (Ed.). (2015). Rethinking education and poverty. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Tierney, W. G. (2018, May 28). As Max Nikias pushed USC to prominence, checks and balances were missing. Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-tierney-usc-tyn dall-nikias-future-20180528-story.html. Tierney, W. G. (2019, September 20). USC has been rocked by admissions and sexual assault scandals. Money could be its next crisis. Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/ story/2019-09-19/usc-carol-folt-max-nikias-scandal. Tierney, W. G. (2020). Get real: 49 essays on the challenges confronting higher education. Albany: SUNY Press. Tierney, W. G. (2021). Higher education for democracy: The role of the university in civil society. Tierney, W. G., & Almeida, D. J. (2017). Academic responsibility: Toward a cultural politics of integrity. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 38(1), 1–12. Tierney, W. G., & Clemens, R. F. (2011). Qualitative research and public policy: The challenges of relevance and trustworthiness. In J. Smart (Ed.), Overview of higher education: Handbook of theory and research, 26 (pp. 57–83). New York: Agathon Press. Tierney, W. G., & Clemens, R. F. (2012). The uses of life history. In S. Delamont (Ed.), Handbook of qualitative research in education (pp. 265–280). Cardiff: Cardiff University. Tierney, W. G., & Colyar, J. E. (Eds.). (2006). Urban high school students and the challenge of access: Many routes, difficult paths. New York: Peter Lang. Tierney, W. G., & Corwin, Z. B. (2007). The tensions between academic freedom and institutional review boards. Qualitative Inquiry, 13(3), 388–398. Tierney, W. G., & Duncheon, J. C. (Eds.). (2015). The problem of college readiness. Albany: SUNY Press. Tierney, W. G., & Hallett, R. E. (2010). Writing on the margins from the center: Homeless youth and cultural politics. Cultural Studies $ Critical Methodologies, 10(1), 19–27. Tierney, W. G., & Hallett, R. E. (2012). Social capital and homeless youth: Influence of residential instability on college access. Metropolitan Universities, 22(3), 46–62. Tierney, W. G., & Hentschke, G. C. (2007). New players, different game: Understanding the rise of for-profit colleges and universities. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. Tierney, W. G., & Holley, K. A. (2008). Inside Pasteur’s quadrant: Knowledge production in a profession. Educational Studies, 34(4), 289–297. Tierney, W. G., & Jun, A. (2001). A university helps prepare low income youth for college: Tracking school success. Journal of Higher Education, 72(2), 205–225. Tierney, W. G., & Kidwell, C. S. (1991). The quiet crisis: Native Americans in academe. Change, 23(2), 4–5. Tierney, W. G., & Kolluri, S. (Eds.). (2020). Relational sociology and research on schools, colleges and universities. Albany: SUNY Press. Tierney, W. G., & Lanford, M. (2014). The question of academic freedom: Universal right or relative term. Frontiers of Education in China, 9(1), 4–23. Tierney, W. G., & Lanford, M. (2015). An investigation of the impact of international branch campuses on organizational culture. Higher Education, 70(2), 283–298. Tierney, W. G., & Lanford, M. (2016). Creativity and innovation in the twenty-first century university. In J. M. Case & J. Huisman (Eds.), Researching higher education: International perspectives on theory, policy, and practice (pp. 61–79). Oxford: Routledge. Tierney, W. G., & Lanford, M. (2017). From massification to globalization: Is there a role for rankings? In E. Hazelkorn (Ed.), Global rankings and the geopolitics of higher education.

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Understanding the influence and impact of rankings on higher education, policymakers, and society (pp. 295–308). Oxford: Routledge. Tierney, W. G., & Lechuga, V. M. (2005). Academic freedom in the 21st century. Thought and Action, 21, 7–22. Tierney, W. G., & Lechuga, V. M. (2010). The social significance of academic freedom. Cultural Studies $ Critical Methodologies, 10(2), 118–133. Tierney, W. G., & McInnis, C. (2001). Globalization and its discontents: Dilemmas facing tertiary education in Australia. International Higher Education, 25, 19–21. Tierney, W. G., & Rhoads, R. A. (1993). Postmodernism and critical theory in higher education: Implications for research and practice. In J. Smart (Ed.), Higher education handbook of theory and research (pp. 308–343). New York: Agathon Press. Tierney, W. G., & Sabharwal, N. S. (2016). Debating academic freedom in India. Journal of Academic Freedom, 7, 1–11. Tierney, W. G., & Sabharwal, N. S. (2017). Academic corruption: Culture and trust in Indian higher education. International Journal of Educational Development, 55, 30–40. Tierney, W. G., & Sabharwal, N. S. (2018). Reimagining Indian higher education: A social ecology of postsecondary. Teacher’s College Record, 120(5), 1–32. Tierney, W. G., & Sirat, M. (2008). Challenges facing Malaysian higher education. International Higher Education, 53, 23–24. Tierney, W. G., & Venegas, K. M. (2009). Finding money on the table: Information, financial aid, and access to college. Journal of Higher Education, 80, 364–388. Tierney, W. G., & Ward, J. D. (2017). The role of state education policy in ensuring access, achievement, and attainment in higher education. American Behavioral Scientist, 61(14), 1731–1739. Tierney, W. G., Corwin, Z. B., Fullerton, T., & Ragusa, G. (Eds.). (2014). Postsecondary play: The role of technology and social media in higher education. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Tierney, W. G., Corwin, Z. B., & Ochsner, A. (Eds.). (2018). Diversifying digital learning: Online literacy and educational opportunity. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Tierney, W. G., Sabharwal, N. S., & Malish, C. M. (2019). Inequitable structures: Class and caste in Indian higher education. Qualitative Inquiry, 25(5), 471–481. Verbeek, B., & Zaslove, A. (2016). Italy: A case of mutating populism? Democratization, 23(2), 304–323. Vonnegut, K. (1952). Player piano. New York: Random House. Wright, B., & Tierney, W. G. (1991). American Indians in higher education: A history of cultural conflict. Change, 23(2), 11–18.

William G. Tierney is University Professor Emeritus and founding director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California. A past president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education and the American Educational Research Association, Tierney, received the Howard Bowen Distinguished Career Award from ASHE and the Distinguished Research Award from Division J of AERA. Tierney is a member of the National Academy of Education and an AERA Fellow. He has been a Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation Center in Bellagio, Italy, and a Fernand Braudel Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.

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Reforming Transitions from High School to Higher Education Evidence on the Effectiveness of College Readiness Policies Christine G. Mokher

Contents Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Factors Contributing to Lack of Academic Preparation for College Coursework . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Overview of Early Assessment and Underlying Conceptual Frameworks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Impacts and Implementation of Early Assessment Policies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Early Assessment Impacts on College Enrollment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Early Assessment Impacts on First Year Coursetaking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Early Assessment Impacts on Longer-Term Postsecondary Outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Implementation of Early Assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Overview of Transition Courses and Underlying Conceptual Frameworks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Impacts and Implementation of Transition Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Transition Course Impacts on First Year Coursetaking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Transition Course Impacts on Longer-Term Postsecondary Outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Implementation of Transition Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Overview of Summer Bridge Programs and Underlying Conceptual Frameworks . . . . . . . . . . . . . Impacts and Implementation of Summer Bridge Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Summer Bridge Impacts on First Year Coursetaking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Summer Bridge Impacts on Longer-Term Postsecondary Outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Implementation of Summer Bridge Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Overview of Early College High Schools and Underlying Conceptual Frameworks . . . . . . . . . . . Impacts and Implementation of Early College High Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Early College Impacts on College Enrollment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Early College Impacts on Longer-Term Postsecondary Outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Implementation of Early College High Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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C. G. Mokher (*) Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Florida State University College of Education, Tallahassee, FL, USA e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 L. W. Perna (ed.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research 36, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-44007-7_5

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Abstract

Every year millions of high school students graduate unprepared for college-level work, resulting in persistent challenges with high remediation rates and low levels of degree attainment in postsecondary education. Policymakers have responded with a variety of reform efforts at the state and local levels including early assessments of college readiness, senior year transition courses in math and English for students at risk of placement into developmental education in college, summer bridge programs, and Early College High Schools. The purpose of this chapter is to explore the intended mechanisms of these reforms for academically unprepared students, the impacts on both short-term and long-term outcomes of postsecondary success, and common challenges to implementation. The empirical evidence on the effectiveness of these college readiness reforms is largely mixed – with the exception of Early College High Schools, which tend to demonstrate more consistently positive impacts on student success. The chapter concludes with considerations for future reform efforts and additional research to support academically underprepared students. Keywords

Academic preparedness · ACT · College access · College readiness · College placement test · Coursetaking · Developmental education · Early assessment · Early College High School · Education policy · Educational outcomes · K–20 · Student outcomes · SAT · Summer bridge · Transition courses · Underprepared students

Introduction Nationally, there have been persistent concerns regarding the number of students graduating from high school unprepared for college coursework and the lack of student awareness of their own academic preparation. About 40% of students starting at public 4-year institutions and 68% of those starting at public 2-year colleges had to enroll in developmental education courses in math, reading, and/or writing before entering college-level courses in these subject areas (Chen 2016). A recent meta-analysis of studies using regression discontinuity to examine the impacts of developmental education indicates that students scoring just below college-ready who were assigned to developmental courses were substantially less likely to pass college-level courses, complete college credits, and earn degrees than similar peers who narrowly avoided developmental education (Valentine et al. 2017). These developmental education courses also impose substantial costs on both students and institutions, which have been estimated at $7 billion annually nationwide (Scott-Clayton et al. 2014). Students’ under-preparation for college-level work also has implications for success on longer-term postsecondary outcomes like persistence and degree

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attainment. Even though college enrollment rates have continued to rise over recent decades, completion rates have remained stagnant in comparison (Bailey and Dynarski 2011). Success rates tend to be especially low among community college students, where only about 41% of students complete any credential within 6 years and there are considerable disparities among racial and ethnic groups ranging from 28.8% for Black students to nearly 50% for Asian and White students (National Student Clearinghouse 2019). Taken together, the context of high remediation rates, low levels of degree attainment, and inequitable access reflects a need for policy initiatives that go beyond supporting students in enrolling in college to increasing the likelihood that they will have the academic preparation needed to succeed. In response, policymakers have experimented with a range of college readiness initiatives intended to improve transitions from high school to postsecondary education for academically underprepared students. Common policy reforms at the state and local levels include the following: 1. Early assessment – initiatives which require high schools to administer the same assessment used by local 2-year or 4-year colleges for college admissions or course placement 2. Transition courses – college readiness courses in math, reading, and/or writing, which are typically offered in the senior year for students at risk of being placed into developmental education in college 3. Summer bridge – programs offered during the summer after the senior year that support the transition to college, including math or English courses for underprepared students 4. Early College High Schools – small schools that blend high school and college experiences to provide students traditionally underrepresented in higher education with opportunities to participate in college readiness activities, receive academic and social supports, and earn college credit The four reforms presented in this chapter were selected because they share several commonalities. First, the primary intent of these reforms is to improve academic college readiness. Other programs may address additional barriers to college readiness, such as text message programs that provide students with information about completing different steps in the college application and enrollment processes. These types of barriers are also important to address in order to improve college access, but the focus here is on how to better prepare students academically to succeed in college-level coursework. Second, the selected reforms are targeted specifically toward academically underprepared students. While other programs like Advanced Placement and dual enrollment also seek to improve academic preparation for college, they are typically limited to only the highest-performing students. Third, the reforms presented in this chapter are all state and local initiatives that have been widely implemented. There are also federal programs like Upward Bound and GEAR UP that seek to improve college preparation for students traditionally underrepresented in higher education, although many of these programs include extensive services beyond academic preparation such as work-study programs, counseling,

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financial and economic literacy, and scholarship components. Fourth, all of the policies presented here are designed to improve students’ academic preparation before they matriculate into college. Postsecondary institutions have engaged in a number of efforts to support academically underprepared students, such as reforming developmental education programs or using multiple measures for course placement. Yet there are often concerns expressed that reform efforts need to begin earlier to provide students with the greatest chance of success in postsecondary education. This chapter will explore the impacts and implementation of each of these four college readiness reforms for academically underprepared students and the implications for future policies seeking to further improve postsecondary success. The chapter begins by exploring some of the factors contributing to under-preparation for college coursework that these policies intend to address. While traditional policy approaches such as developmental education tend to place the blame on students for their lack of college readiness, contemporary reforms have begun to take a sociological approach considering that the educational system may be at fault for failing to adequately align K–12 and higher education (Lansing et al. 2017). The policies examined in this chapter all seek to improve cross-sector alignment to help underprepared students to fulfill college readiness standards prior to postsecondary enrollment.

Factors Contributing to Lack of Academic Preparation for College Coursework Disparities in Access to and Participation in Rigorous High School Courses Students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups face challenges throughout the educational pipeline due to issues of discrimination and racism, structural inequalities, as well as a failure of institutions to support their unique social and cultural values (e.g., Flores and Oseguera 2013; Mueller and Broido 2012). Nationwide, Black, Latino/Latina, and low SES students are less likely to attend high schools that offer rigorous high school courses (Adelman 2006; Venezia and Jaeger 2013). Further, differences in test scores and educational needs prior to high school entry further contribute to coursetaking gaps (Conger et al. 2009). These disparities continue to higher education, where low-income and underrepresented minority students have a greater likelihood of taking developmental education courses upon college enrollment (U.S. Department of Education 2017; Wilbur and Roscigno 2016). Further, students in rural schools often have less access to rigorous courses compared to students in urban or suburban schools (Anderson and Chang 2011; Levin 2007). Rural schools tend to have smaller enrollments (Jimerson 2006), which makes it difficult to provide a sufficient number of advanced courses for interested students. Rural schools also typically have limited financial resources to allocate to rigorous courses given the lower property tax base and associated lower per-pupil expenditure (Johnson and Strange 2008; Picciano and Seaman 2009). This means

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that students from these settings may lack opportunities to further improve their college readiness during the high school years. Avoidance of Rigor in High School Coursetaking Even if rigorous courses are available at the school level, students may not take advantage of these opportunities. The majority of students attending postsecondary education are enrolled in openaccess institutions that allow any students with a high school diploma to enroll, regardless of high school performance. Yet it is generally accepted that many students who receive high school diplomas do not have the requisite skills to successfully complete college-level work (e.g., Conley 2010; Venezia and Jaeger 2013). Students often do not understand that completing high school requirements and being admitted to a postsecondary institution do not indicate college readiness. As a result, about 70% of students go on to a postsecondary institution, but the percentage completing a bachelor’s degree has remained relatively stagnant at less than 30% (Kirst 2001). Although many high schools offer opportunities for students to go beyond the high school graduation requirements by taking advanced courses, students often fail to take advantage of these opportunities. Kirst (2001) argues that students do not understand the influence that advanced high school courses can have on postsecondary performance and degree attainment. Because the college admissions process begins in the first semester of the senior year, most colleges do not take into account grades earned during students’ last year in high school. By the second semester of their senior year, many students know where they will attend college, and the remainder of the school year is perceived as a time to have fun and relax. Kirst (2001) refers to this as the “senior slump” and argues that there is a disconnect between K–12 and higher education that disincentivizes students to work hard during the senior year to academically prepare for college. Additionally, students who plan to attend open-access colleges may not work as hard in high school because they do not understand how it would benefit them to do so (Rosenbaum et al. 2017). Lack of Awareness of Skills Needed to Succeed in College The Center for Community College Student Engagement (2016) found that, while 86% of students at community colleges perceived themselves as prepared for college, about 66% were assigned to take developmental courses. First-generation college attendees (National Commission on the High School Senior Year 2001), students who attend low-performing schools (Boser and Burd 2009), and low-income students (DeilAmen and Tevis 2010) tend to be especially unaware of gaps between the skills and knowledge required for high school graduation versus college-level work. One factor contributing to this lack of awareness of gaps in college readiness is that students do not receive clear signals from the assessments that they take in high school. In many states, K–12 and higher education institutions have different tests for assessing college readiness, and attempts to align measures of college readiness are often incomplete or fragmented (Lansing et al. 2017). The Every Student

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Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 emphasizes college and career readiness more than did its predecessor, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. Under ESSA, high schools increasingly use such exams as the ACT and the SAT to assess students’ levels of college readiness (English et al. 2016). These tests, however, still differ from the placement tests used by many community colleges. When measures of college readiness are not consistent across high schools and colleges, students do not obtain a clear signal of college readiness, and educators may also fail to identify gaps in readiness that need to be addressed. There are problems both with the lack of information that students receive about the necessity of testing college-ready and the timing of when the tests are required to be taken. K–12 and postsecondary institutions often fail to communicate that students must first take a placement test to determine if they are eligible to take for-credit courses when they enter college (Boser and Burd 2009; Kirst 2001; Rosenbaum 2001). Further, waiting to assess students’ college readiness until after they leave high school may send a signal to students that achievement during high school is not important for attending college (Rosenbaum 2001).

Chapter Overview This chapter begins by providing an overview of the different types of college readiness reform initiatives at state and local levels, and the theories of action underlying the mechanisms through which these reforms are intended to improve college readiness. The specific reforms examined focused on the alignment between secondary and postsecondary sectors and include early assessments of college readiness, transition courses, summer bridge programs, and Early College High Schools. Next, the chapter reviews empirical studies assessing the impact of these reforms on student outcomes including college enrollment, first year coursetaking in college, and longer-term postsecondary outcomes like transfer and credential attainment. The evidence for early assessment, transition courses, and summer bridge programs tends to be largely mixed, with some reforms resulting in small gains in postsecondary success while others may have unintended consequences resulting in negative effects on student outcomes. Early College High Schools, which provide a more comprehensive array of services throughout high school, tend to demonstrate more consistently positive effects on both short-term and longer-term postsecondary success. Each section on program impacts also reviews some of the challenges to implementation that may hinder the effectiveness of college readiness reforms, such as insufficient financial resources or lack of professional development to support effective instructional practices. The chapter concludes with considerations for policymakers and directions for future research. In particular, many studies of college readiness reforms focus on short-term outcomes such as whether students test college-ready, but this may not translate into success in college-level courses or increased likelihood of degree completion. Additionally, there is a need to consider more comprehensive reform

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efforts that provide sustained support over time and promote alignment across services. This section emphasizes the need for greater consideration of reform efforts focused on preparation beyond academic skills, such as noncognitive attitudinal and behavioral attributes needed to succeed in college. Lastly, there is a need to consider whether reform efforts are addressing underlying social issues and structural barriers to college success and the implications for equity.

Overview of Early Assessment and Underlying Conceptual Frameworks While the majority of postsecondary institutions in the USA use standardized assessments for the purposes of evaluating students’ eligibility for admissions and/ or determining placement into specific levels of college coursework, a substantial number of high school students either do not participate in testing or fail to understand the implications of their scores. Early assessment policies seek to address this challenge by requiring students to participate in college admissions or placement tests while they are still in high school. The intent is to help more students complete the necessary steps for college enrollment and to gain a better awareness of their level of college readiness. Early assessment policies are particularly important for academically unprepared students who may not realize that they are not ready for college-level work. Many 4-year universities require applicants to submit admissions test scores on the ACT or SAT. The ACT has traditionally been more popular in the Midwest and the South, while the SAT has been more common in states on the East and West coasts – although most institutions will accept scores on either exam. The College Board’s SAT assessment consists of sections in reading, writing, and math; each section is worth 200–800 points, and students receive a total score ranging from 400 to 1600 (College Board 2020). ACT, Inc., has developed a separate assessment, the ACT, which includes multiple-choice tests in English, math, reading, and science that are each scored on a scale of 1–36 (Act, Inc. 2020). Both the SAT and ACT include an optional essay component where students provide a written response to a prompt. After taking the assessment, students receive a score report that includes their mean scores, percentile rankings, and indicators of college readiness benchmarks. These benchmarks are based on predicted probabilities of passing collegelevel courses given the student’s scores, as estimated by the test developers based on data on college performance among students who have previously taken the assessment. Community colleges and non-selective 4-year colleges are open-access institutions, so incoming students are not required to submit admissions test scores. Instead, most of these institutions have a requirement that students must take a placement test when they enroll to determine the level of courses that students should select in math and English, although there has also been a movement toward the use of multiple measures like high school GPA. Students scoring below college-ready are typically assigned to one or more developmental education courses that do not

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provide college credit but must be completed prior to enrolling in courses that fulfill the degree requirements. The number of approved placement assessments used by postsecondary institutions varies from one to over ten depending on the state or college system and may include locally developed assessments such as the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) in Texas or nationally utilized assessments like the College Board’s ACCUPLACER (Whinnery and Pompelia 2019). The lack of common assessments and college readiness criteria can send a confusing signal, as students who have similar levels of preparation may be assessed or placed differently depending on the policies at the college that they attend. Some states and districts have adopted early assessment initiatives, which require or encourage high schools to offer the same college readiness assessment used by local colleges. These initiatives may use different types of college readiness assessments including college admissions exams like the ACT or SAT, college placement tests like ACCUPLACER, or statewide tests that may be part of accountability systems (Barnett et al. 2013a). The first statewide policies for early assessment were adopted by Colorado and Illinois in 2001 (Klasik 2013). As of 2017/2018, there were 19 states that administered the ACT statewide and 14 states that administered the SAT statewide (Woods 2019). The use of ACT has largely served as the statewide assessment in grade 11, which is widely required for K–12 accountability purposes. Some additional states may offer their own college readiness assessments or have local initiatives for universal testing at the school or district level that do not have oversight by a state agency (Barnett et al. 2013a). Early assessment policies increase participation in college readiness testing by requiring most or all high school students to take the test and collectively registering students for the exam. The costs of the test (which typically range from around $30 to $50 per student for the ACT or SAT) shift from payments made by individual students to states or districts paying for all test administrations. Under early assessment policies, the test is usually administered at the school site during regular instructional hours. In the absence of these policies, tests like SAT and ACT are typically only offered on Saturdays, and students must find their own transportation to an authorized testing center. Previous research has demonstrated that students’ likelihood of taking a college admissions test is affected by the location of testing centers relative to the students’ neighborhood and that policies to provide exams at the high school as part of the regular school day can significantly increase student participation in testing (Bulman 2015). In many states that have early assessment policies, the college entrance exam or placement test is administered as part of the state accountability system, so there is little to no additional costs to districts or state departments of education beyond regular assessment practices. Policies providing universal testing for college readiness in high school have been promoted as costeffective ways of improving college attendance rates and reducing gaps in access for underrepresented student groups (e.g., Dynarski 2018). There are several mechanisms through which early assessment policies are intended to improve student outcomes related to college enrollment, first year coursetaking in college, and potentially longer-term postsecondary outcomes like degree completion. First, early assessment policies provide a signal to students of

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their level of college readiness, which can remove information barriers to college access by increasing students’ awareness of their level of preparation and the feasibility of college admissions (e.g., Foote et al. 2015; Hyman 2017; Jackson 2015). Students can then decide whether to use this information through actions such as changing senior year course selections or modifying plans for applying to college. Colleges may also use test score information to initiate communication and recruitment to students, such as mailing promotional materials to students’ homes. This additional information may increase the likelihood that students will consider college as a viable option. Additionally, test scores may provide school personnel, such as teachers and guidance counselors, with additional information to use in advising students about their postsecondary plans or strengthening the curriculum that students receive. The conceptual framework of sensemaking can be used as a lens for understanding how students make sense of the information provided from their test scores (Almeida 2016). Sensemaking is defined as the “social process that involves seeking information from others, collectively assigning meaning to the information, and then taking actions based on shared understandings” (Bess and Dee 2012, p. 155). In the context of early assessment policies, this process can help to explain students’ interpretation of test scores and potential responses such as seeking advice from a guidance counselor on how to improve college readiness. Students’ interpretation depends on the intersection between their prior knowledge and their social context. These interactions explain how individuals who receive the same message may interpret the message differently and respond differently. For example, students scoring below college-ready may not take action to improve their preparation unless they have prior positive relationships with a teacher or counselor who can motivate the student to change their behavior. Second, requiring students to take a test of college readiness may remove a process barrier from applying to college. A study from the National Center for Education Statistics (2004) found that among tenth graders who indicated an intent to attain 4-year degrees, only 70% took the ACT or SAT by grade 12. Making the exam mandatory provides a “nudge” that reduces the steps needed to apply to college. These types of nudges may be especially important for students from underrepresented minority and low-income backgrounds, who tend to be less likely to complete college application steps compared to wealthy or White students (e.g., Avery and Kane 2004; Cabrera and Nasa 2001). It may also matter more for students in small schools or rural schools, which tend to have lower participation rates in college testing (Cook and Turner 2019). Furthermore, mandatory testing can remove process barriers, such as missing deadlines for test registration (Cook and Turner 2019; Hurwitz et al. 2015; Hyman 2017). Third, the presence of early assessment policies has the potential to change school behavior. Some schools may be motivated to provide additional resources like online tools to support test preparation, or to offer special classes on test preparation which may result in higher test scores (Hyman 2017). States with universal college readiness testing often make test preparation available to all students at no cost via several options including Khan Academy practice tests, ACT online preparation,

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partnerships with course providers, free ACT/SAT practice exams, or other statesupported online providers for ACT or SAT review (Zinth and Woods 2018). This may be important because previous research has found that simply giving students more information regarding the implications of college placement test scores has little impact on students’ preparation or performance on the exam, which suggests that students may need more detailed information on the content of the test or study materials to improve outcomes (Moss et al. 2019). Other schools may provide breakfast or lunch on exam days or offer incentives for participation like a “comp” day during the week after the exam (Hurwitz et al. 2015). Taken together, changes in school behavior may improve students’ preparation for the exam and provide motivation for students to participate and try their best. It also may help schools think about the level of preparation of their students and try to structure the curriculum and school policies so that more students are prepared for college by graduation.

Impacts and Implementation of Early Assessment Policies Early Assessment Impacts on College Enrollment Given that one of the primary purposes of early assessment policies is to increase students’ awareness of their level of college readiness and the feasibility of college admissions, a primary outcome of interest is whether these policies impact students’ decisions on whether to enroll in college after high school. Klasik (2013) conducted an evaluation of several of the first statewide policies requiring students to take the ACT or SAT in grade 11 in Colorado, Illinois, and Maine. Institution-level enrollment data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and student-level data from the Current Population Survey were used to conduct an interrupted time series analysis. The author examined changes among in-state college enrollment in states that adopted an early assessment policy relative to a synthetic control group of other states that did not require college entrance exam testing. These comparison states had similar characteristics and outcome trends in the pre-policy years relative to the policy adopters. Models were estimated separately for each of the states with a policy change to account for differences in state context, such as the proportion of statewide college enrollments in private institutions. Klasik (2013) also conducted an analysis of individual student behavior using student-level records with a comparative interruptive time series model comparing the likelihood of enrollment in 2-year and 4-year colleges (including those located out of state) for students in policy change states relative to students in states without early assessment. Klasik (2013) found that the early assessment policies in Colorado, Illinois, and Maine had relatively few impacts on overall college enrollment. The institution-level analyses in Colorado and Illinois resulted in no significant changes in college enrollment. The individual-level results in Illinois indicated a positive and significant effect of the policy changes, and the difference from the institution-level analysis

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suggests that some students may have shifted to enrollment in out-of-state colleges. In Maine, there were small negative effects of the policy on overall enrollment in the institution-level results, and no significant effects in the individual-level results. There were some greater differences in college enrollment outcomes by sector, which indicates that the early assessment policies may have influenced how students were sorted across institutions. Illinois and Colorado experienced significant increases in enrollments at 4-year colleges, particularly among private institutions. Maine and Colorado had significant decrease in enrollment at public 2-year colleges and an increase in enrollments at colleges that require ACT or SAT for admissions. Taken together, the results from these three states suggest that the absence of exam scores may serve as a barrier to college access and that mandating participating in these exams can result in modest increases in college enrollment rates, particularly among 4-year institutions. Hurwitz et al. (2015) looked more closely at the statewide SAT mandate in Maine and heterogeneity in policy impacts by high school characteristics. The analysis linked student-level data from the College Board on SAT scores in Maine in prepolicy (2004–2006) and post-policy (2007–2008) years, along with National Student Clearinghouse data on college enrollment and Common Core of Data records for high school characteristics. A difference-in-differences analysis was used to compare college enrollment rates in Maine to a synthetic control group of other states. The intent-to-treat (ITT) analyses indicated an increase in 4-year college enrollment rates around 2–3 percentage points, while there was a larger treatment-on-the-treated (TOT) impact of around 10 percentage point increase in enrollments at 4-year colleges. There were no effects on out-of-state migration, indicating that these gains were concentrated among colleges in Maine. The gains also tended to be considerably higher among high schools in rural areas or small towns – contexts in which students traditionally have lacked information and support for college-going. Goodman (2016) further examined the impacts of the statewide ACT mandates in Illinois and Colorado while also exploring whether the policy impacts differed by family income. She hypothesized that these policies will provide students with an indicator of their eligibility for selective college admissions, which may factor into their decisions of where to apply to college. Microdata on students taking the ACT tests were matched to public high school data from the Common Core of Data. A difference-in-differences analysis examined changes in college-going in ACT states compared to neighboring states without testing mandates. The findings indicated that one-third to one-half of students were induced to take the ACT, and the majority of these students had test scores that were competitive among colleges with selective admissions. While there were no impacts of the policies on overall college enrollment, there was an increase of 10–20% in selective college enrollment (depending on how selectivity was measured). Many new test takers and recipients of high scores were from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. These results suggest that many students, especially those from low-income families, may underestimate their true abilities and lack information on their likelihood of admissions to selective schools. Goodman concludes that providing universal early assessment may reduce inequities in access to higher education, particularly at selective colleges.

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Hyman (2017) looked at heterogeneity in the impacts of mandatory college entrance exams in the state of Michigan. Student-level data were utilized from six cohorts of high school juniors in Michigan. A difference-in-differences analysis compared outcomes between the pre- and post-policy years among schools that did not have an ACT testing center in the pre-policy period to a matched group of similar schools that did have a testing center. The expectation was that the policy should have a greater effect in schools without a pre-existing testing center. The results provided evidence of undermatching in the college enrollment process. For every ten low-income students who took the ACT, there were five additional lowincome students who were not tested but likely would have scored above the college readiness benchmarks. The policy was associated with a small increase of around 0.6 percentage points in the likelihood of enrolling in a 4-year college. These effects were larger (around 1 percentage point) for males, low-income students, and students in schools with high poverty rates. The results also suggest that increasing 4-year enrollments do not seem to be coming at the expense of 2-year enrollments. Only one study by Cook and Turner (2019) has looked at the impacts of local early assessment policies rather than statewide testing policies. Just over half of high school graduates in Virginia took the SAT, but there was considerable variation by district. Some districts allowed students to opt in, and only a minority of students took the test, while other districts provided universal access where almost all students took the test. The lowest SAT participation rates tended to be in small and rural schools, as well as in districts with low family incomes, low population densities, and low college attainment rates. The authors used data from the population of public high school students in Virginia using the Virginia Longitudinal Data System. An imputation process using Bayesian bootstrap procedures was conducted to predict scores that non-tested students would have received on the SAT based on observable attributes including demographic characteristics and test scores on other assessments. The results suggest that if Virginia adopted universal testing statewide, the number of high school graduates eligible for admissions at broad-access colleges would increase by up to 40% and at selective institutions by up to 20%. The greatest gains would be for low-income students and for students attending small districts or districts located in rural areas. However, the authors caution that even though students may have test scores eligible for admissions, they may not complete other steps required for college application and enrollment. The results of this study may be upwardly biased if non-test takers are not as invested in test preparation or have lower motivation to perform well on the test. Additionally, there could be some bias at the district-level if districts offering universal testing tend to have greater gains in student performance or if they devote greater resources to SAT preparation. While most states and districts with early assessment policies have utilized national college admissions exams including the ACT and SAT, California took a slightly different approach by assessing whether students would need remedial coursework in college. In 2004 the California Department of Education, California State University (CSU), and California State Board of Education collaborated to develop the Early Assessment Program, or EAP (Kurlaender 2014). Students were already taking the California Standards Test in grade 11 as part of the school

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accountability system, and the EAP added an optional early assessment component consisting of 15 multiple-choice questions in math and an essay in English that students could complete during the same test administration. Students who took the EAP received a notification letter in the summer prior to grade 12 indicating whether their scores would make them exempt or non-exempt from remedial courses at CSU institutions, along with a description of online resources on how to improve preparation. In math, there was also a “conditional exempt” category for students who would be eligible for exemption if they completed specific math courses during grade 12 and earned a grade of C or better. (A conditional exempt category was later added for English in 2012.) About two-thirds of students opted to take the English EAP, and three-quarters opted to take the math EAP, although the percent of students completing all questions was considerably lower. The EAP also included optional components that provided high school teachers with professional development about how to improve students’ college readiness and provided students with the option to participate in a senior year reading course or an interactive online program in math to further improve their level of preparation. However, 7 years after implementation, only 20% of teachers participated in professional development, and around a quarter of high schools demonstrated full implementation of the senior coursework for students (Almeida 2016). Howell, Kurlaender, and Grodsky (2010) examined the effects of the testing component of the EAP on the likelihood of college enrollment and assignment to a remedial course at the CSU Sacramento (CSUS) campus. They used student-level data on pre- and post-policy cohorts of high school juniors to estimate a logistic regression model of the decision to apply to CSUS based on whether students’ EAP scores were classified as exempt, conditionally exempt, non-exempt, or non-participant. To account for potential selection bias among non-participants, the sample was limited to feeder high schools with a 90% or higher participation rate on the EAP. The results revealed relatively few differences in college enrollment rates. In English, students scoring non-exempt were slightly more likely to apply to CSUS relative to pre-EAP cohorts of students. In math, both exempt and non-exempt students had similar probabilities of applying to CSUS relative to pre-EAP cohorts. These findings suggest that students were not deterred from applying to CSUS from a signal of not being exempt from remedial coursework. Jackson (2015) further investigated whether early college readiness signals from the EAP may discourage college applications and enrollment using data on firsttime-in-college (FTIC) applicants from all 23 CSU campuses. A regression discontinuity design was used to examine outcomes among students who scored just above or below the EAP cutoff for an exempt score in English. Models were estimated separately for students with no scores, non-exempt scores, and exempt scores in math. Overall, students scoring near college-ready in English tended to have similar probabilities of applying to and enrolling in CSU institutions regardless of their exemption status. This suggests that students may be either ignoring the signal of college readiness or using the information to improve preparation in the senior year if they scored below college-ready instead of allowing the information to discourage college enrollment.

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A third study on EAP by Jackson and Kurlaender (2016) examined how schools have responded to the EAP and whether it has had an impact on school performance in existing accountability systems. The study used school-level data on all California public high schools in the 2 years before and 2 years after EAP implementation, merged with EAP test scores from the Educational Testing Service and data from the CSU Chancellor’s office on college applications and placement scores. A differencein-differences analysis was used to examine changes in school-level outcomes among schools with high and low participation rates in the years before and after the EAP. The model was also expanded to include a difference-in-differences-indifference specification to compare outcomes over time between grade 11 students who took the CST with EAP relative to grade 10 students who only took the CST. This allowed for an examination of whether the EAP provides an incentive to schools to improve student performance on the statewide assessment. The authors identified considerable variation in participation rates in the EAP by high school since the program was voluntary for students and high schools had control over how much encouragement they provided for student participation. There were small positive effects of the EAP on applications to CSU, but outcomes tended to be similar regardless of school-level EAP participation rates. There was also a lack of support for the hypothesis that EAP results may result in improvements in school accountability metrics. The authors posit that it could be that students were not trying hard enough or did not have sufficient motivation to improve their performance. They also suggest that state accountability systems lack incentives for high schools to improve their performance, and policymakers may need to more fully integrate the EAP into the accountability system for the program to demonstrate effectiveness.

Early Assessment Impacts on First Year Coursetaking Studies on the impact of early assessment policies on first year coursetaking outcomes in college are limited to the EAP in California. Howell, Kurlaender, and Grodsky (2010) used data from FTIC students at CSU Sacramento to estimate an interrupted time series model comparing college remediation rates for pre- and postpolicy cohorts. They found that the EAP was associated with a 6.1 percentage point decrease in the probability of needing remediation in English and a 4.1 percentage point decrease in math. Since college enrollment rates remained constant while developmental education rates declined, the results suggest that students improved preparation in high school, although more research is needed to explore how this may have happened. Kurleander and colleagues (2019a) conducted a follow-up study to further explore the impact of the EAP policy on remedial coursetaking by extending the sample from CSUS to all 23 CSU campuses. This study also expanded on prior research by examining whether the effect of the EAP varies by student background characteristics including race, gender, and baseline academic performance. An interrupted time series design was used to examine differences in the probability of placement in remediation in three pre-policy cohorts relative to pre-post cohorts

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of students who attended a CSU campus. Heterogeneity in program impacts was explored by adding interaction terms between the EAP variable and gender, race, and prior test score performance. The EAP was associated with a 2–3 percentage point decrease in the likelihood of needing remediation at CSU. While these effects were smaller than those in Howell, Kurlaender, and Grodsky (2010), the magnitude was still considered to be meaningful because it translated into a reduction of 1200–1400 students in development English and math across the CSU system. The effects tended to be greatest among students on the margins of college readiness, which is likely because these students were more likely to be misclassified in the pre-policy years. The authors also suggest that the intervention may not provide enough support to help students with the weakest levels of preparation to avoid remediation. In 2008, California Senate Bill 946 expanded the EAP to allow the California Community Colleges System to use EAP scores for placement, although participation by the community colleges was optional (Kurlaender 2014). By 2013, 71 community colleges accepted EAP scores and waived local placement tests for students classified as exempt. Kurlaender (2014) examined whether EAP participation was associated with gains in postsecondary success among community college students and the extent to which the EAP was predictive of students’ academic performance in community college courses. OLS regression was used to examine the relationship between EAP participation and first year coursetaking behavior while controlling for demographic characteristics of students, highs school cohort, and prior achievement. Participation in the EAP was associated with lower levels of enrollment in remedial courses, higher enrollment in transfer-level courses, and higher grades in the first year courses, particularly in English. The study also found that the EAP demonstrated predictive power in assessing readiness for college-level work, which led the authors to suggest that the EAP should be considered as a replacement for local exams or used as an additional indicator for course placement in community colleges.

Early Assessment Impacts on Longer-Term Postsecondary Outcomes While many early assessment policies have demonstrated small positive effects on college enrollment and first year coursetaking outcomes, much less is known about whether these gains continue into longer-term postsecondary success. If early assessment policies induce students to attend college but they fail to persist, then policy impacts on enrollment in college may overstate the benefit of these policies. Hyman’s (2017) difference-in-differences analysis compared pre- and post-policy cohorts in Michigan’ statewide ACT mandate on the likelihood of persistence to years 2 and 4 in college. The results indicated that there were similar persistence rates for marginal students induced to enroll in college by the policy relative to inframarginal students. A preliminary examination of bachelor’s degree completion also indicated that completion rates were similar regardless of whether the student was induced to attend college due to the policy.

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Hurwitz et al. (2015) also examined the impacts of early assessment on degree attainment in the context of the statewide adoption of the SAT in Maine. Using a difference-in-differences analysis of college enrollment rates in Maine relative to a synthetic control group of other states, there were no effects of the policy on bachelor’s degree completion rates within 5 years of high school graduation. The authors suggest that it may be too early to expect effects on longer-term outcomes like degree completion because students induced to enroll in college may be more marginal students who need more time to complete. Yet the authors also contend that even if students do not experience any change in degree completion, there may be still some benefits from attending some college in terms of labor market outcomes, as well as spillover benefits in areas like health and crime.

Implementation of Early Assessment Costs of Early Assessment Overall, there is a growing body of evidence that early assessment policies may lead to small improvements in college enrollment and first year postsecondary coursetaking outcomes, particularly for students from disadvantaged individual and school contexts. Importantly, these gains may be achieved in a way that is relatively cost-effective. Colorado’s statewide assessment program costs about $1.6 million annually, which is much less than programs designed to reduce financial barriers to college such as the Georgia HOPE merit aid program costing around $189 million per year (Klasik 2013). The statewide SAT program in Maine cost around $1 million per year in exam costs and administrative fees like test proctor payment, although many of these costs would have been encountered even if schools used another exam for state accountability purposes (Hurwitz et al. 2015). These policies also lower “social costs” because students and their families are not responsible for paying for exam fees (Hyman 2017). Yet in the absence of a statewide mandate, some districts may not have the financial resources or time available to support universal testing (Cook and Turner 2019). Additionally, the costs and benefits of offering universal testing may vary by district based on the level of academic achievement of the students. Challenges to Understanding and Communicating Test Results Some students may not appreciate the importance of the information received from early assessment, or the information may be poorly communicated, which may lead them not to take action to improve their level of preparation (Foote et al. 2015; Kurlaender et al. 2019a, b). Tierney and Garcia (2011) conducted focus groups with 25 high school seniors in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and only 1 of them had heard of the EAP. Students expressed frustration about the number of tests that they have to take and confusion about the purpose of these tests. High school staff including college counselors also knew very little information about EAP and expressed concerns that the EAP was not effective at communicating the implications of placing into remediation.

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Similar findings about poor communication on EAP scores were evident in a qualitative study by Almeida (2016) in a large California urban district with a large Latino population. Students had little prior knowledge about how to prepare for college from their communities or families and relied on their schools as the primary source of information on college readiness. Focus groups participants lacked prior knowledge about the purposes or benefits of the EAP, which meant that they did not know how to prepare for the exam or did not take the test seriously. Once students received their score reports, there was no discussion of results with school personnel. Only one student had spoken with a counselor or teacher about the EAP score report, and the other students reported that they did not think to ask anyone at the school for advice. Additionally, no students had visited the online resources provided on the school report – either because they were not aware of the resources or because they decided not to visit because the benefits were not communicated. Additionally, low-income students may have less access to the Internet, so providing information solely online may have been a barrier to these students. Challenges to the Content, Quality, and Timing of Information Even if students do understand the information provided by the early assessment, they may get the information too late to change their college-going behavior. Many students may be more than 1 year behind the sequence of courses required for selective college admissions, or they may receive information about their test scores too late to modify their course schedule during the senior year (Venezia and Voloch 2012). It is also important to consider whether supports are provided for underprepared students to act on that information and improve their preparation for college (Jackson 2015). For example, teachers participating in the professional development of California’s EAP demonstrated improvements to their instructional practices, strategies, and knowledge of preparing students for college literacy; and students in their courses reported feeling better prepared for college-level work (Hafner et al. 2010). Yet students at one high school that placed little emphasis on EAP indicated that students did not know what resources were available or how they should better prepare for college-level work (Tierney and Garcia 2011). The online resources provided by CSU to students testing below college-ready were described as “meager and passive” (p. 115), which suggests that even if students did take the initiative to seek out these resources, they may not have been very helpful in improving their college readiness.

Overview of Transition Courses and Underlying Conceptual Frameworks The second college readiness intervention of interest is transition courses, which are intended to improve students’ college readiness skills in math, reading, and/or writing. Transition courses are often coupled with early assessment policies to allow students to modify coursetaking in grade 12 based on their level of college

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readiness. A common goal of these courses is to support students who are at risk of needing remediation in college to address deficiencies before high school graduation and become prepared to begin college-level work upon college entry. In some cases, transition courses are offered at high schools statewide and overseen by a state agency, while in other cases transition courses are offered in certain schools with approaches that have been developed locally. A statewide scan of college readiness policies by Barnett et al. (2013a) found that there were 29 states in which transition courses were offered in 2013, including 21 local initiatives and 8 statewide initiatives. By 2017, the number of statewide transition course programs had more than doubled to 17 states, while the number of local initiatives remained relatively constant at 22 (Fay et al. 2017). There is considerable variation across state and local initiatives in terms of the purpose, content, and delivery of transition courses (Barnett et al. 2016; Barnett 2018a). While all transition courses are intended to improve college readiness, this term is used inconsistently and may refer to different levels of readiness (e.g., ready for a college-level course at a community college versus a 4-year institution). The term may also be operationalized to describe different goals – such as the percent of students who test out of developmental education versus the percent who successfully complete college-level courses. The content of the course may be aligned with high school standards, skills needed for college-level courses, placement or admissions exams, or other priorities of those who oversee the initiative. High school teachers, college faculty, or a mix of K–12 and postsecondary educators may develop transition courses. Programs use a variety of instructional approaches including direct instruction, online learning, and blended courses. While all transition courses focus on improving academic skills in math or English, some may also focus on broader college readiness skills (e.g., goal setting and time management skills) and postsecondary planning. Some transition courses may even provide college exposure by giving students an opportunity to visit a college campus or interact with college faculty. Transition courses may also vary across contexts in terms of the structure, organization, and context of the courses (Barnett et al. 2016; Barnett 2018a). Transition courses may be implemented as a subject area course that fulfills high school graduation requirements, an elective course, or as a supplement to existing courses. Students are typically targeted for participation if they score below college-ready on an early assessment, although some programs limit participation to those who are very close to college-ready. Non-targeted students may also enroll in transition courses due to factors such as student or parent preferences, counselor recommendations, or practical considerations such as the need to fill classes. Some transition courses include mechanisms that may alter students’ placement in college-level courses. States like Tennessee and North Carolina guarantee students who earn a particular grade in transition courses that they can enroll in for-credit courses, while other states like Massachusetts and New Hampshire provide students with an end-of-course test that guarantees placement

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in college-level courses for students who score college-ready. Transition courses can be taught by college faculty, high school teachers certified in the subject area, or high school teachers with additional support from the college. There also tends to be considerable variation in terms of funding and resources available to support the implementation of transition courses, such as professional development for instructors. One way in which transition courses are intended to improve students’ postsecondary success is by providing rigorous coursework that will help students to develop necessary academic skills. Prior research has demonstrated that high school curriculum may affect postsecondary outcomes including college persistence and postsecondary degree attainment. Students who complete rigorous coursework in high school and attend college are more likely than their counterparts to persist in college and continue on to bachelor’s degree program if they transfer (e.g., Attewell and Domina 2008; Horn and Kojaku 2001; Jacobson and Mokher 2014). There is also a strong correlation between high school curriculum taken and bachelor’s degree completion, as students who complete more rigorous high school coursework are more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, the correlation of high school curriculum with postsecondary degree attainment is higher than that of class rank or high school test scores among college enrollees (Adelman 2006). The results of these studies suggest that policy initiatives like transition courses, which are intended to be more rigorous than traditional courses for underprepared students, may have a positive effect on students’ postsecondary outcomes. Courses that students would otherwise be taking may only fulfill the minimal high school graduation requirements. Furthermore, transition courses may be even more influential than other advanced courses in grade 12 that may not focus on the same specific skills as introductory college courses. If the content and curriculum covered in transition courses is better aligned with the types of skills assessed on placement tests and the content of college-level courses, students may have higher likelihood of testing college-ready upon completion of transition courses (Boatman and Bennett 2020; Pheatt et al. 2016). Yet it is also important to consider that there may be unintended consequences if transition courses are less rigorous than the courses that students would likely otherwise be taking if transition courses were not available. A transition course that simply reviews material from earlier high school courses like algebra and geometry may not prepare students as well for college-level coursework as more advanced courses such as pre-calculus. Additionally, if transition courses are limited to students scoring below college-ready, there could be negative consequences from being placed into a course with low-achieving peers. This has happened in other large-scale curricular reform efforts, such as a policy in Chicago Public Schools that required all students to complete English 1 and Algebra 1 in grade 9 (Allensworth et al. 2009). Not only did the policy fail to improve test scores and college enrollments, but it also tended to result in worse outcomes for higher-performing students by placing them in classes with lower-ability peers. A similar trend could

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occur with transition courses if students on the margins of college readiness are placed into courses with students who are far below college-ready. Another mechanism through which transition courses may impact postsecondary outcomes is by improving academic momentum through helping students to bypass developmental education in college. Early momentum can be defined as student success on early outcomes, such as first year credit accumulation, which have been identified as key predictors of success on longer-term postsecondary outcomes (Belfield et al. 2019). Some transition courses provide students with an exemption from developmental courses if they earn a certain grade in the transition course or achieve a score of college-ready on an assessment at the end of the course. This exemption can save students time and money and potentially reduce their time to degree. Success on early outcomes can also help students to develop self-efficacy and academic self-concept, which may result in greater commitment to completing degree programs (Attewell et al. 2012; Attewell and Monaghan 2016). A third mechanism for transition courses to support postsecondary success is by developing noncognitive skills (e.g., note-taking and time management) in addition to academic skills. While these non-academic skills are not assessed on typical placement exams or college entrance tests, they play an important role in helping students to succeed in college-level coursework (Pheatt et al. 2016). Some transition colleges integrate activities that develop noncognitive skills directly into the curriculum (Barnett 2018a). Yet other transition courses may indirectly improve noncognitive skills. For example, transition courses in Tennessee use an online curriculum that is self-paced, so students must develop self-regulation, which is an important skill for success in college coursework more broadly (Boatman and Bennett 2020; Fay 2017). Other transition courses may provide students with social capital to navigate the college choice process by covering non-academic information like how to apply for scholarships and complete the FAFSA. Fourth, transition courses may signal to students that they are “college material” as they are already on a path to college by virtue of being in a transition course. College students enrolled in remedial courses often feel stigmatized, and they spend substantial time and money completing these requirements, particularly if they are required to complete several remedial courses. These courses are commonly taught by adjuncts who are likely to be part-time employees with weaker teaching credentials. This creates a perfect storm for creating discouragement and failure in students enrolled in postsecondary institutions. Many first year students reported in interviews that they become distrustful as they belatedly discovered they gained no credit while paying tuition for indifferent instruction, which became particularly concerning when they may faced more semesters of remediation (Rosenbaum et al. 2016). In contrast, providing students with college readiness testing and instruction during high school could have many potential benefits. Transition courses may be seen as “college preparatory” courses that provide an opportunity to prepare for career and college, rather than being perceived as a stigma. In addition, students may have strong incentives to do well in these courses, as it may help them to prepare for jobs and college and to potentially reduce tuition costs in college.

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Impacts and Implementation of Transition Courses Transition Course Impacts on First Year Coursetaking The earliest evaluations of college transition courses focused on local initiatives. Fong et al. (2015) examined a pilot program between the Fresno County Office of Education and California State University to develop an Expository Reading and Writing Course (ERWC), which would later be made available statewide. High school and college faculty developed the grade 12 course for students who scored below college-ready on the reading or writing section of the EAP. Participating faculty were required to participate in extensive professional development and were provided with curriculum binders and textbooks for their students. The study used data from students in 24 high schools that offered ERWC and matched students in ERWC courses with similar demographic and baseline achievement characteristics to students in non-ERWC English courses. The matched students were included in a weighted OLS regression model to examine performance on an English placement test used by CSU, which would allow students to place out of developmental education courses if they scored college-ready. There was a small positive effect of ERWC on test scores, equivalent to an effect size of 0.13 standard deviations. However, the study did not continue to track students into college to examine actual enrollment and completion of first year courses. Trimble et al. (2017) evaluated another local initiative called the At Home in College program, which was developed by the City University of New York (CUNY). Students who took the high school exit exam and scored below the college readiness benchmarks in English or math were offered transition courses in the senior year. Participating students also had access to other resources including college visits, academic advising, and internship opportunities. The research design took advantage of a staggered approach to implementation across New York City high schools to conduct a difference-in-differences analysis that compared gains in student outcomes over time in schools participating in the At Home program relative to students in schools that had not implemented the program yet. There were no effects of the program on passing a gatekeeper English course during the first year of college. In math, there was a small positive effect of the program associated with a 1 percentage point increase in the likelihood of passing a gatekeeper math course. These findings suggest that the At Home program effects are largely neutral, and do not appear to particularly benefit or harm students. The first evaluation of a statewide policy was conducted in West Virginia by Pheatt et al. (2016) to assess the statewide rollout of math transition courses following legislation passed in 2009. Students who placed “below mastery” on a statewide assessment as juniors were assigned to a course called “transition mathematics” in the senior year. The curriculum for the course was developed by high school and college faculty and focused on reviewing content and skills from prior math courses (particularly algebra). The policy also included professional development and resources for teachers including a website with lesson plans and suggested class activities. The authors conducted a regression discontinuity analysis using

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outcomes for students scoring just above the mastery cutoff on the state assessment relative to those just below the cutoff. To account for non-compliance with assignment to treatment, the authors also utilized a TOT analysis using an instrumental variables approach to predict students’ likelihood of enrollment in transition courses. Both the ITT and TOT results indicated no statistically significant differences in the likelihood of scoring college-ready on a placement test at the end of grade 12 and being exempt from developmental education. Among first year coursetaking outcomes, students who scored below the cutoff were 5 percentage points less likely to complete a gatekeeper math course in the first year in the ITT analysis. The TOT results revealed even larger negative effects, as transition course participants were 19 percentage points less likely to complete a gatekeeper math course compared to similar students who were not assigned to the course. The authors offered several potential explanations for these null and negative effects. First, the majority of students scoring below mastery did not seamlessly enroll in college following high school graduation, which limits the ability to detect effects on postsecondary outcomes. Second, most students in transition courses substituted these courses for more rigorous courses in grade 12 like trigonometry and pre-calculus that may better prepare students for college. Third, the majority of students who took the transition courses did not test college-ready, which suggests that the transition course was not sufficiently aligned with college-ready benchmarks. Florida was another early adopter of statewide transition courses with the Florida College and Career Readiness Initiative (FCCRI). The FCCRI provided college readiness testing to students in grade 11, along with English and math college readiness and success (CRS) courses in the senior year to those who scored below college-ready. Yet unlike West Virginia, there was no uniform curriculum, and teachers largely had to develop materials for the transition courses on their own, which resulted in considerable variation across schools and districts. Mokher, Leeds, and Harris (2018a) estimated program impacts using two different methods. First, a regression discontinuity design was used to assess outcomes among students who scored just above and below the test score cutoffs for assignment to transition courses. Second, impacts were examined among students with different levels of prior academic performance using a before-after regression analysis to assess outcomes among targeted students before and after the schools had implemented the transition courses. The regression discontinuity results revealed little to no impact on students’ short-term success on outcomes including college enrollment or passing non-developmental (college-level) courses. The before-after analysis also found little to no effect among most short-term outcomes, with small positive effects on the probability of taking and passing non-developmental courses in math and English among the population of targeted students (which consisted of a broad range of achievement levels). Yet the magnitude of these effects were quite large for some portions of the achievement distribution, with impacts of up to 10.7 percentage point increases in the probability of enrolling in non-developmental courses. However, there were smaller effects on the probability of passing nondevelopmental courses which suggests that some students who enrolled in these courses were not adequately prepared to succeed.

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A follow-up study by Leeds and Mokher (2020) examined how the FCCRI affected grade 12 coursetaking and whether the impacts of the FCCRI differed depending on students’ prior high school coursetaking trajectories. Results from a regression discontinuity analysis indicate that some students substituted CRS courses for other standard level courses (e.g., non-honors English IV), but other students may have been diverted from higher-level courses. Additionally, the impact of assignment to CRS courses on the probability of taking and passing non-developmental courses varied by high school coursetaking trajectory. In math, students on the basic high school track had a greater likelihood of enrolling in college-level math (gateway) courses, but there were smaller impacts on the likelihood of passing these courses, which suggests that they may not have been adequately prepared. Students with advanced high school coursetaking trajectories in math were more likely to enroll in and pass gateway courses. However, they were also less likely to enroll in and pass higher-level courses beyond the gateway level, indicating that they may have been placed into a college course that was too easy. In English, many students on the standard high school coursetaking track assigned to CRS courses enrolled in lower-level courses in college, but they were also more likely to pass which suggests they may have been redirected to courses that better suited their abilities. The greatest benefits were for students on the most advanced English coursetaking trajectory who were more likely to enroll in and pass a gateway English course. Taken together, these results suggest that while some students may have been diverted to more appropriate courses, other students may have been better prepared to succeed in college if they had more flexibility to enroll in alternate high school courses instead of being required to take CRS courses. Legislation in Texas in 2013 required school districts to work with local postsecondary institutions to develop English and math transition courses for students who were not college-ready. The Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas developed a transition math course that dozens of Texas school districts utilized. Pustejovsky and Joshi (2019) conducted a quasi-experimental evaluation using weighted propensity score matching to compare students in these math transition courses to similar non-participants from a comparison group of previous cohorts or a comparison group from the same cohort. The results revealed no statistically significant differences in the likelihood of taking developmental or college-level math courses in the first semester using either comparison group. However, the passing rates in college-level math courses were about 3–4 percentage points lower for students in the transition math course relative to the comparison group. The authors caution that the results must be interpreted with caution because there may have been differences between the two groups in college readiness at the beginning of grade 12 that were not accounted for in the analysis. Xu et al.’s (2020) evaluation of another statewide transition course program in Kentucky revealed more consistently positive effects on student outcomes than the programs in West Virginia, Florida, and Texas. Kentucky’s policy required students scoring below the college readiness benchmarks on the mandatory ACT exam in grade 11 to participate in a targeted intervention (TI) program in grade 12. Many of the decisions about implementation were made at the local level, such as whether to

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offer stand-alone transition courses or integrate content with existing courses, as well as whether to offer TI during traditional school hours or as extended school services. Student-level records from seven cohorts of students in pre- and post-policy years were used to conduct two types of analyses. The first analysis used a difference-inregression discontinuity design to compare changes in outcomes over time for students scoring just above or below the ACT college readiness benchmarks. The second analysis used a difference-in-differences analysis to examine the impacts of the policy for students with a wider range of performance on the ACT. The TI program was associated with a decreased likelihood of enrollment in developmental education courses by approximately 5–10 percentage points in math and 3–4 percentage points in English. For students at 4-year universities only, TI was also associated with a 4 percentage point increase in the likelihood of completing a college-level math course during the first year. Program impacts tended to be similar among student subgroups including race, free or reduced price lunch status, enrollment in a low-performing school, and academic performance. Another statewide transition course program in Tennessee has also resulted in mostly positive impacts on postsecondary student outcomes. Boatman and Bennett (2020) examined the Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support (SAILS) program, which provides the same online math courses used in community college developmental education programs to high school students who tested below college-ready on the statewide administration of the ACT. Students progressed at their own pace with the online materials in a course facilitated by licensed math teachers in a high school computer lab. If students passed the SAILS course, they became exempt from developmental education and could enroll directly in a college-level math course if they enrolled in a public 2-year college in Tennessee. Student-level data on five cohorts of high school students was used to conduct a difference-in-differences-in-difference design contrasting differences by treatment status (eligible vs. ineligible for remediation), school-level implementation of SAILS (first vs. later cohorts), and policy year (before or during the first year of SAILS). The results indicated that students eligible for SAILS were less likely to enroll in developmental math courses and had a greater likelihood of enrolling in college-level math. While the course-based passing rates in college-level courses declined by 6 percentage points, there were still more students completing collegelevel courses in the first year with a 12 percentage point increase in the cohort-based passing rates for SAILS eligible students. The policy impacts on college coursetaking outcomes were similar among subgroups including race, sex, and high school locale. Another evaluation of the Tennessee SAILS program by Kane et al. (2019) examined program impacts before and after other changes in the postsecondary policy environment. The first postsecondary change was the implementation of Tennessee Promise, a last-dollar scholarship program providing free community college to recent high school graduates. Tennessee Promise has the potential to increase the number of underprepared students who attend college. The second postsecondary change was the adoption of co-requisite remediation in community colleges, which provided students with the opportunity to enroll simultaneously in

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developmental education and college-level courses in the same semester. The policy change accelerates the pace at which students assigned to developmental education are exposed to college-level courses. The analyses included a difference-in-differences model that compared gains in schools that had implemented SAILS relative to other schools that had not yet implemented SAILS during the context of a changing postsecondary system. In addition, a regression discontinuity design was used to assess the impact of scoring just above or below the college readiness benchmark on first year coursetaking outcomes. For cohorts prior to the postsecondary policy changes, students assigned to SAILS were 13 percentage points more likely to take and complete college-level math in the first year of community college. However, after the policy changes, no differences were found in the likelihood of enrolling in or passing college-level math in the first year of college enrollment. Despite the null effects for later cohorts, students participating in SAILS still benefited from the cost savings of being able to take the course in high school instead of waiting until college where they would have been required to pay tuition. The Kane et al. (2019) study also examined the impact of SAILS on students’ math achievement using an abbreviated version of the ACT math exam that was matched with students’ prior ACT scores to assess gains in achievement. There was no evidence that the policy improved students’ math achievement, as students assigned to SAILS performed similarly to students in other high school courses who scored just above the college readiness threshold. The passing rates for collegelevel courses also remained relatively constant at around 50%, further suggesting that that SAILS did not have an “achievement effect” of improving students’ math skills. Instead, the reform seems to have a “delay effect” by removing the barrier of delayed enrollment in college-level courses under the policy context of traditional semester-long developmental education courses. After the policy change to corequisite developmental education, the benefits from the “delay effect” were diminished, as students in both high school SAILS courses and community college co-requisite courses were more likely to progress into college-level courses during the first year.

Transition Course Impacts on Longer-Term Postsecondary Outcomes Studies examining the effects of transition courses on longer-term outcomes like credit accumulation, persistence, and degree attainment have mostly demonstrated null effects. Trimble et al.’s (2017) assessment of the CUNY At Home program found there was only about a one-credit increase in the number of credits accumulated in the first year. Mokher and Leeds (2019) used a regression discontinuity design to examine the impact of the FCCRI on longer-term outcomes including persistence, transfer from a 2-year to 4-year institution, and degree attainment. Estimates for two cohorts of students tended to be insignificant or small in magnitude, which indicates that there was little long-term benefit of the FCCRI on higher education outcomes for students on the margins of college readiness. Additionally, Xu et al. (2020) looked at the impact of Kentucky’s targeted intervention program on

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persistence and credit accumulation through the second year of college and found little to no impact on these outcomes. Evaluations of Tennessee’s SAILS program have yielded mixed results of the longer-term benefits of transition courses. Boatman and Bennett’s (2020) tripledifferenced model examining credit accumulation indicated that SAILS was associated with 4.5 additional credits earned by the third year of college. These gains in credit accumulation were greatest for females and rural high school students. However, there were no significant differences by SAILS status on degree attainment after 2 years. The authors suggest that students may not have been tracked long enough to detect effects in outcomes like degree attainment, or the benefits of the program may not continue that far. In addition, Kane et al.’s (2019) study found that the SAILS program was associated with a 4.5 credit increase in the number of credits earned by the second year of college during the early years of the program, but there were no differences in credit accumulation by SAILS status after other postsecondary policy changes went into effect. The availability of co-requisite developmental education courses in later years would have allowed underprepared students to enroll in college-level courses in the first semester, so SAILS students were no longer making faster progress to college coursework.

Implementation of Transition Courses Costs of Transition Courses Transition courses have the potential to save students time and money by reducing the likelihood of assignment to developmental education courses in college (e.g., Boatman and Bennett 2020; Kane et al. 2019). Barnett, Fay, and Pheatt (2016) noted that transition courses can be offered inexpensively by diverting funding from existing courses or using pre-existing curriculum materials. For example, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB 2017) provides free curricula for college transition courses in math and literacy, as well as stipends for staff professional development on implementing these courses. States that develop their own transition courses incur additional costs. Scaling these courses statewide may require further funding, as in Tennessee (which used funding from the governor’s office) and Illinois (which used funding from Race to the Top) (Barnett et al. 2016). External funding from private foundations may also be available to support these efforts, such as the Gates Foundation which provided a grant to the Dana Center at the University of Texas to support the development and dissemination of a new math transition course (Mokher et al. 2019). Kentucky’s Targeted Intervention program was implemented at an average cost of about $600 per student, which is considerably less than the national average cost of around $1500 for a three-credit remedial course in college (Xu et al. 2020). In Florida, the FCCRI was implemented at an add-on cost of only about $1 per student, given that substantial resources were repurposed from other uses (Mokher et al. 2018b). However, state leaders need to consider if sufficient capacity is available among personnel to add reform activities to their existing

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responsibilities and consider activities they will need to give up to reallocate staff time. Additionally, there could be high opportunity costs due to reallocation of non-personnel costs including facilities, materials, and equipment. For example, many transition courses utilize online instructional materials, but computer labs may be needed for computer-based testing, classroom activities, and student projects and portfolios. The funding approach used for transition courses also has implications for program quality. Florida made a decision that the FCCRI would be implemented essentially like an unfunded mandate, which resulted in unequal resource distribution. These disparities resulted in program heterogeneity among schools and districts, including some that may have lacked sufficient resources to reach all students targeted for the program. If other states were interested in implementing a similar program, they could take a different approach to funding which could improve the effectiveness of the program as a whole and across schools and districts. Opportunity Costs of Transition Courses Some transition courses may count toward high school graduation requirements in the subject area, while others may be considered as elective courses. The decision of whether to count transition courses as a subject area or elective course may depend on local or state regulations (Barnett 2018a). Additionally, some transition courses in states like Massachusetts and Kentucky allow modules of content from transition courses to be integrated with existing English and math courses offered during the senior year instead of as a separate course. If students are required to take 4 years of math and English for high school graduation, then transition courses are typically taken as a substitute for other courses that students otherwise would have taken in the senior year. This was the case of CUNY’s At Home in College program, as most students took transition courses as a substitute for other grade 12 courses rather than taking no math or English course (Trimble et al. 2017). In West Virginia, most students in transition courses were substituting these courses for more rigorous courses like trigonometry and pre-calculus (Pheatt et al. 2016). The average test scores of students enrolled in transition courses also tended to be lower than other grade 12 courses in West Virginia, suggesting that assignment to these courses may have negative peer effects. Challenges were also identified in Florida, where some students assigned to transition courses were induced away from more advanced courses, particularly if they were already on a more rigorous high school coursetaking trajectory (Leeds and Mokher 2020). Additionally, since students in Florida’s CRS courses had a wide range of test scores and coursetaking histories, teaching to any one ability level would likely fail to serve a large number of students. This has implications for considering whether transition courses should be targeted toward all students scoring below college-ready versus a more narrowly tailored subgroup and whether students scoring below college-ready should be required to enroll in a transition course or have the ability to substitute another rigorous high school course in the same subject area (Mokher et al. 2019).

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Challenges of Aligning Transition Courses with College Courses Another challenge is ensuring that transition courses are appropriately aligned with postsecondary standards and expectations. West Virginia took the approach of aligning the content of transition courses with the placement test, in an effort to increase the likelihood that students would have the ability to test college-ready upon completion of the course (Pheatt et al. 2016). Yet the majority of students who enrolled in the transition course did not test college-ready, which suggests that the course may not have been sufficiently aligned with the college-ready benchmarks. Florida provided broad standards for transition courses, but teachers did not receive any instructional materials and were confused about what the courses were supposed to cover (Lansing et al. 2017). The Florida Department of Education advised high schools to work together with local postsecondary institutions to develop the transition courses, but this occurred very infrequently in practice due to a variety of challenges occurring at different stages of developing K–12 to postsecondary partnerships such as identifying leaders to initiate collaboration and developing a common understanding of objectives (Mokher and Jacobson 2019). Beyond issues of course content and curriculum, there could also be misalignment of expectations for student behaviors and practices. Fay (2017) conducted site visits at high schools and community colleges participating in Tennessee SAILS to compare course contexts in different settings. She wanted to understand why course completion rates tended to be much higher for SAILS students compared to community college students. The results indicated that even though the SAILS courses used the same curriculum and online program materials, there were different expectations of students depending on their setting. High schools provided more management of student behavior and encouraged students to comply with the SAILS course goals. This included more structured daily schedules, more frequent class meetings, greater enforcement of attendance, and regular reminders about course deadlines. Community college students had greater autonomy and were expected to complete their work more independently, which required greater self-regulation. Fay (2017) notes that even though SAILS may help students to accelerate through remedial requirements, it could be doing them a disservice if the high school courses do not adequately reflect the expectations for college courses or provide students with opportunities to understand college norms.

Overview of Summer Bridge Programs and Underlying Conceptual Frameworks A third policy initiative to improve college readiness is summer bridge programs, which typically occur during the summer prior to initial college enrollment to support students with the transition from high school to postsecondary education. The summer bridge model originated with the federal Upward Bound program in the 1960s; even though the focus of Upward Bound has changed over time, this early model for summer bridge has influenced the development modern programs

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(Sablan 2014). These programs are often targeted to underrepresented student populations including low-income, English language learner, international, minority, or first-generation students (Kezar 2000). Some bridge programs may have a more remedial focus and be limited to those scoring below college-ready on an assessment, while others may be targeted toward gifted students and focus on the transition to college rather than the development of basic academic skills. There are also summer bridge programs that target students within a specific field of study like math or science, or subgroups within these academic areas like women in STEM (see, e.g., Ashley et al. 2017). For the purposes of this chapter, the focus will be on summer bridge programs intended to develop academic skills for underprepared students. Summer bridge programs may include a variety of different program activities (Kezar 2000; Sablan 2014). Some are focused almost entirely on academic skills in reading, writing, and/or math. Many include non-academic skills like time management, study skills, or workshops on financial literacy. Some may also include “college knowledge” with a broader focus on college life, career counseling, and information on how to navigate resources and different departments on-campus. These additional components are intended to prepare students socially and financially in addition to offering academic preparation (Bettinger et al. 2013; Kezar 2000). In addition, some summer bridge programs include partnerships with community organizations such as community service projects or meetings with businesses that may provide future opportunities for internships. They may also be developed in partnership with K–12 educators to improve the transition from high school to postsecondary education. Summer bridge programs have been implemented in a diverse range of colleges including 2-year, 4-year, public, and private institutions (Sablan 2014). They are typically administered through student affairs departments but may also be run by departmental faculty in subject areas like math and English. The duration of the programs is typically 4–6 weeks. Student participation is typically voluntary. In some programs, students commute from their homes to attend daily meetings at the college, while in other programs students live on-campus to help them adjust to the campus environment. While there has been an interest in moving summer bridge programs online to help scale them to more students, it may be difficult to acculturate students to the college campus remotely. Given that summer bridge programs are intended to increase students’ academic preparation through coursework on developmental or basic skills prior to college enrollment, the underlying mechanisms are similar to transition courses. Summer bridge programs are designed to increase students’ postsecondary success with the development of academic skills and promotion of academic momentum by opportunities to earn college credit. Yet many summer bridge programs also support students in two additional ways. First, summer bridge programs often provide students with additional academic and social support services. Students may be required to take part in tutorials, receive support from math or writing labs, or participate in advising. This may help students form close relationships with faculty and staff to develop greater ties to the institution, which may affect their decision to persist or withdraw (e.g., Astin 1984; Tinto 1975). There are also opportunities for

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students to begin forming peer networks to further integrate with the campus community. These social aspects of the program may also help students to develop non-academic skills such as greater self-confidence (Kezar 2000). Early research on summer bridge programs indicates that these programs may contribute to participants’ positive self-perceptions of academic skills and academic self-efficacy (e.g., Strayhorn 2011). Second, summer bridge programs may help students to gain familiarity with the college environment and how to succeed there. Students may learn about navigating processes like how to select courses, apply for financial aid, or obtain help from campus resources. Transition knowledge and skills (also referred to as “college knowledge”) is one of the key dimensions of college readiness defined by Conley (2010, 2012) and is important for helping students to navigate the transition to college. The development of transition knowledge and skills may be particularly critical for students from underrepresented background who tend to have less access to this knowledge in the absence of these types of interventions (Rosenbaum et al. 2006). Prior research has shown that summer bridge participants tend to have higher levels of college knowledge after completing the program (e.g., Sablan and Tierney 2016), although it remains unknown whether or how students may use this knowledge.

Impacts and Implementation of Summer Bridge Programs Summer Bridge Impacts on First Year Coursetaking Most of the early evaluations of summer bridge programs were descriptive in nature and typically did not include a comparison group for contrasting outcomes of participants (Sablan 2014). Theses evaluations also typically focused on only a single institution and tracked student outcomes for a limited follow-up time (Wathington et al. 2016). The first rigorous evaluation of a large-scale summer bridge program was through a series of studies conducted through the National Center for Postsecondary Research (Barnett et al. 2012; Wathington et al. 2011, 2016) which assessed a developmental summer bridge program implemented with funding from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). The 4- to 5-week summer bridge program offered remedial coursework to students with weak academic skills at 22 public 2-year and 4-year colleges in Texas, although the evaluation was limited to 8 participating institutions. The bridge program consisted of four components: (1) accelerated developmental instruction in reading, writing, and/or math; (2) academic supports like tutoring and participation in math or writing labs; (3) college knowledge through advising activities and financial aid workshops; and (4) a $400 stipend for participants. The program format varied by institution with some course-based formats that provided developmental education courses in an accelerated format, and other freestanding formats that offered instruction in basic skills without being tied to a particular course. Students enrolled in developmental education courses through the summer bridge program could progress to the next

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course in the sequence if they earned a grade of C or higher in the course-based program. Other program models focused on preparing students to retake the placement test at the end of the summer, which allowed some students to place out of developmental education if they improved their performance on the test. Graduating high school seniors received information about applying for the Texas summer bridge program through their high school or outreach from the participating colleges. Those who applied were required to take a placement test to assess their level of college readiness. Each college offered different levels of developmental education as part of their summer bridge programs, so participation was limited to students who scored within the range for the courses available at their institution. All eligible applicants were invited to an information session, and those who consented to participate were randomly assigned to the summer bridge group or a comparison group under business-as-usual conditions. Using this randomized control trial design, ITT estimates of the impact of the summer bridge program on first year outcomes were generated using OLS regression. During the first semester of college, summer bridge participants were more likely to enroll in college-level courses in each subject area (Barnett et al. 2012; Wathington et al. 2011). Participants also had a greater likelihood of passing college-level courses in math and writing during the first semester. However, there were no differences in course passing rates by the second semester of college, indicating that the impacts of the summer bridge program may diminish over time (Barnett et al. 2012; Wathington et al. 2016). Two other studies have assessed the impacts of summer programs that include academic skill development for underprepared students, but do not include any social or college knowledge components. Chingos, Griffiths, and Mulhern (2017) evaluated an online summer math course at three Maryland universities. This was a low-cost intervention with a self-paced course taken over 4–6 weeks that included instructional resources like tutorials and videos, practice problems, as well as tests and quizzes. Students in both the intervention and comparison groups were provided with the opportunity to take the placement test again at the end of the summer. Each intervention site had a course coordinator to answer questions, provide “nudges” on course participation, and enable students to retest. Eligible students were randomly assigned to treatment or control groups. ITT estimates were calculated using a separate regression model for each institution to account for differences in implementation and placement score policies. Due to concerns with the study design at two of the institutions, the results discussed in the article only focused on one institution. At this institution, treatment students were slightly more likely to retake the placement test and receive a college-ready score relative to comparison group students. However, it is unclear how much of these improvements may be attributed to learning gains versus greater participation in testing retakes. There were no differences by treatment status in the likelihood of taking or passing math courses in the first year of college enrollment. The program had poor compliance rates, as only about half of students in the intervention group ever logged into the online program. Further, only about a quarter of participants reported spending 4 or more hours during each week of the program, even though the recommended time was 5–10 hours per week. The authors suggest that weak implementation could be due to

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several factors including issues with the quality of program, the requirement to independently complete work over the summer, or poor messaging to encourage students to participate in the program. Kurlaender, Lusher, and Case (2020) conducted an evaluation of another entirely academic summer program for students who needed remediation in math or English. The California State University (CSU) Early Start Program was mandated by the CSU Board of Trustees by executive order in 2011 and required incoming students to complete remedial courses in the summer if they had not demonstrated college readiness. The courses were taught by CSU faculty and were intended to help students understand the expectations for college by providing exposure to academic coursework. There was variation in the implementation of the program across campuses, with some courses offered in online versus face-to-face format, and the number of credit hours per course ranging from 1 to 3. A difference-in-differences analysis was used to compare outcomes for students who scored below collegeready in the pre-policy years under traditional remediation to those in the post-policy years under Early Start. Additionally, the study included a fuzzy regression discontinuity design to evaluate outcomes for students scoring just above college-ready who were assigned to Early Start relative to those scoring just above college-ready who were not required to take any remedial courses. Study findings indicate that more students met remediation requirements by the summer before college enrollment, but these early gains did not result in continued improvements on longer-term outcome. There was some evidence that participants were more likely to enroll in upper-division courses and complete more credits in the first year, but the magnitude of the effects were small. There were also no statistically significant impacts of the program on students’ GPA in the first term.

Summer Bridge Impacts on Longer-Term Postsecondary Outcomes Participants in the THECB summer bridge program in Texas were followed for 2 academic years to examine whether program participation affected long-term outcomes like persistence and credit accumulation (Barnett et al. 2012; Wathington et al. 2016). The results from the randomized control trial indicated that there were no differences among participants and non-participants on credit accumulation or persistence by the second year of college. While the summer bridge programs tended to be implemented with fidelity, about 20% of students in the control group took other summer courses which may have provided similar benefits to the bridge program, especially relative to credit accumulation. The authors also suggested that given the short-term nature of the program, the program duration may not have been adequate to reasonably expect impacts on longer-term outcomes. Kurlaender et al. (2020) also examined whether there were longer-term impacts of the CSU Early Start Program. The difference-in-differences analysis indicated that there were no impacts of Early Start on credit accumulation or persistence during the second and third years of college. Further, the regression discontinuity results showed that students narrowly assigned to Early Start had slightly weaker

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performance on persistence and credit accumulation outcomes relative to students who had narrowly avoided remediation. The plots of outcomes by institution revealed that there may be variation in program impacts by campus, with some sites experiencing gains in persistence and others experiencing declines. The authors suggest that there could be several reasons why the Early Start Program did not result in the intended improvements in student outcomes. These include a lack of student compliance with the policy, issues with delivery of content during the summer, and the potential for a “discouraging effect” of having to take courses in the summer that may lead students to drop out more quickly. Other summer bridge programs have resulted in more promising longer-term impacts. Wachen et al. (2018) assessed a 4- to 5-week residential summer bridge program implemented at multiple institutions in the University of North Carolina (UNC) System during 2008–2014. The program was designed for in-state students who were conditionally accepted or who only met minimum admissions requirements for high school GPA or SAT scores, who represented the lowest-performing 10% of the freshman class. The North Carolina General Assembly allocated funding for the program, which provided students with tuition, room and board, and books. Participating students had to complete college-level English and math courses with a grade of C or higher and could receive up to six credits toward their degree programs. Students also received support services consisting of tutoring, mentoring, support labs, and opportunities for social bonding. The program primarily utilized existing student support services but made participation mandatory for some components during the summer program and also through the first fall semester. Propensity score matching was used to match program participants with nonparticipants who had similar characteristics on variables including high school GPA and standardized test scores. The authors found that the summer bridge program was positively associated with a 6–8 percentage point increase in persistence in the second and third years of college and a 4 percentage point increase in the likelihood of completing a degree within 4 years. In addition, participants earned an average of eight credits more than non-participants during the first year of college, and these gains were sustained through the second year. Douglas and Attewell (2014) also found positive long-term impacts of summer bridge programs using national data from the Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS) Longitudinal Study and transcript data from a large multi-campus community college system. Students in BPS were identified as summer bridge participants if they took a 4- to 6-week academic course during the summer before college enrollment based on grades in the transcript records. The community college system provided a 4- to 6-week summer bridge program in math, reading, or writing for students who scored below college-ready on the placement test. In the first part of the study, propensity score matching was used to account for differences in student characteristics between summer bridge participants and non-participants in the BPS sample. In the second part of the study, data from the community college system was used to create a sample of students who had scored below college-ready on a placement test, and the same matching methods were used to create groups of participants and non-participants. The findings from the BPS sample indicate that

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summer bridge participants were 10 percentage points more likely to earn a degree within 6 years, with the largest effects for students who were most at risk for not completing a degree. The evaluation of the system-level program did not include degree completion, but still demonstrated promising evidence that summer bridge participants made better progress toward completion. Students participating in the bridge program had a 5 percentage point increase in the likelihood of persisting to the second year of college and had an increase of 4–6 percentage points in the ratio of credits attempted to credits earned. The authors caution that the relatively large impacts in this study should be interpreted with caution given the lack of effects from the more rigorous evaluation of the summer bridge program in Texas by Barnett et al. (2012). Douglas and Attewell (2014) also note that summer bridge programs may be particularly important in colleges that have high-stakes testing policies for course placement by providing students with an opportunity to retest prior to college enrollment. These policies can act like a “troll under a bridge” by misplacing many students into developmental education courses on the basis of a single test scores. Summer bridge programs may not matter as much if institutions do not use high-stakes testing for course placement.

Implementation of Summer Bridge Programs Costs of Summer Bridge Programs Summer bridge programs can be funded by a variety of sources including institutions, federal or state governments, private foundation grants, or a mix of sources (Sablan 2014). For example, 80% of the costs in the CSU Early Start Program were covered by state funding, and 20% came from the local campuses. There may also be considerable differences in the cost per student depending on the scope of the services. The summer bridge program in the University of North Carolina System covered the costs of tuition, books, room, and board at a cost of $3706 per participant. Yet Wachen, Pretlow, and Dixon (2018) note this summer bridge program is still relatively inexpensive compared to the 6–8 percentage point gains in persistence that resulted from the program. The summer bridge program under the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board was non-residential and could be implemented at a much lower cost of approximately $1300 per student including a $400 stipend (Wathington et al. 2011). There was considerable variation in price across Texas institutions participating in this program ranging from $840 to $2349 per student. There were many fixed per-student costs like stipends for participants that made it difficult to achieve economies of scale. Barnett et al. (2012) conducted a break-even analysis of the Texas summer bridge program and found that students would need to complete an additional 3.8 college credits under the program to justify the costs. However, the program had no impact on credit accumulation, suggesting that the program was expensive relative to the benefits. Summer bridge programs providing fewer services or utilizing alternative formats that take advantage of the cost reductions from emerging technologies can be implemented at a lower cost. For example, the online summer math program in Maryland included a licensing fee of $33 for the online program plus approximately

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$4000 for an on-campus facilitator (Chingos et al. 2017). The average cost per student was only $83, which is considerably lower than the $1319 per student in Texas. Yet this program also had few discernable effects on postsecondary outcomes, so it was not very cost-effective despite the low per-student cost. Issues of Instructor Quality Kallison and Stader (2012) conducted site visits at summer bridge programs at Texas colleges and administered surveys to participating students. The greatest area of concern on the student feedback survey was related to teacher quality. Students in the summer bridge program noted that their teachers were unhelpful, failed to explain the material well, used boring teaching methods, and presented limited opportunities for class discussion. The authors suggest that it may be helpful for program administrators to provide professional development to communicate expectations to instructors and provide training techniques relevant to the specific content covered and the student populations served by the bridge program. Additionally, summer bridge programs need to ensure that courses are taught with similar expectations to college-level courses. Wathington et al. (2011) found that some students in the Texas summer bridge program responded that they felt their courses had too much “hand holding” from the instructors and were similar to the instructional experiences in high school. Providing Sufficient Support in a Short-Duration Program Summer bridge programs typically last only 4–6 weeks over the summer, which is considerably shorter than a college semester that generally lasts about 12 weeks. This accelerated timeline may be particularly challenging for lower-performing students who score far below college-ready. Wathington and colleagues (2011) found that students in the Texas summer bridge program reported that the accelerated format of courses led to high workloads and homework demands. Some students also noted that teachers seemed rushed to get through all of the material by the end of the summer session. Barnett et al. (2012) note that program administrators should consider whether other strategies could be combined with summer bridge programs to further support student success. This could include a longer-term intervention to provide students with additional support through the fall semester after the summer bridge program. Alternatively, early interventions to improve college readiness could begin in high school so that students have fewer deficiencies in academic skills by the time they begin the summer bridge program. It may be too much to expect that these summer programs will substantially improve students’ progress on their own given the short duration of exposure to the intervention. Need for Strong Partnerships Summer bridge programs may benefit from forming partnerships with high schools and families. Kallison and Stader’s (2012) site visits at Texas summer bridge programs revealed that while feeder school districts were required to provide student test scores to colleges participating in the summer bridge programs, many districts went beyond this role. For example, some districts had employees serve as administrators or mentors in the bridge programs, participated in planning committees, provided bus transportation to the college

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campus for participating students, or assisted in the development of the curriculum. This additional integration of bridge programs into the high schools can allow the programs to reach more students. Wathington et al. (2011) also found that institutions participating in the Texas summer bridge program emphasized the importance of collaborating with local high schools for recruitment to scale up the programs. Nearly 40% of the students who applied to the program indicated that they had heard about the bridge program from a high school counselor. In addition, parents can be involved in summer bridge programs through activities such as participating in parental advisory boards, attending program orientation and closing ceremonies, receiving information on their child’s progress, and participating in sessions on topics like applying for financial aid (Kallison and Stader 2012). This parental support can be important for providing students with a strong college-going culture and encouragement for aspirations to attend college.

Overview of Early College High Schools and Underlying Conceptual Frameworks The final college readiness intervention explored in this chapter is Early College High Schools (herein referred to as Early Colleges), which are small schools that are intended to improve high school completion and college enrollment rates among students who are traditionally underserved in higher education (Zinth 2016). Participants complete a mix of high school- and college-level coursework beginning in grade 9, with the intent that students will be able to complete a year or more of college credit by high school graduation. Early College programs differ from dual enrollment programs which are typically limited to those with the highest levels of academic proficiency, with the exception of career and technical education (CTE) courses that may be available to students from a broader range of achievement levels (Barnett et al. 2015). Additionally, not all students have access to dual enrollment at their school, or families may not receive information about these opportunities. Early Colleges specifically target underrepresented students including English language learners, first-generation, low-income, and students of color. They tend to have minimal academic performance requirements, with admissions criteria focused on essays and interviews (Barnett et al. 2013b). Instead of allowing students to opt into college-level coursework, the expectation is that all students attending the Early College will participate in college classes. Even though Early College students usually have to take a placement test, they may be able to take a course or two prior to scoring college-ready, but then have to pass the placement exam to take more courses. Most Early Colleges follow a traditional 9–12 grade level design, but some include middle school grades to give students an early start on preparation (Barnett et al. 2013b). Additionally, some Early College programs include a fifth year of high school to allow students to complete up to 60 college credits or an associate degree by high school graduation. Early Colleges can be located on high school campuses (school-within-a-school), on 2-year or 4-year college campuses, or a mix between

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high school and college locations. Programs tend to be small with fewer than 100 students in each grade level, which provides a personalized learning environment. Enrollments tend to be limited because colleges lack the capacity to serve an unlimited number of high school students, not all students want to participate, and it is difficult to start and sustain Early Colleges (Barnett et al. 2015). The first Early Colleges started in the 1960s and 1970s and were predominately intended to serve high-achieving students who were limited by traditional high school courses (Webb 2014). However, there were a few early initiatives that took the opposite approach – such as LaGuardia Middle College which started in the 1970s with the intent of serving first-generation students (mostly immigrants) by accelerating instead of remediating instruction (Wechsler 2001). Large-scale national reform efforts to implement Early Colleges nationwide for at-risk students began in 2001 with the Early College High School Initiative (ECHSI), which was launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with intermediary partners like Jobs for the Future. To increase scale, the ECHSI sought support from other foundations like the Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Within a decade, there were 280 Early Colleges serving over 80,000 students. The ECHSI also developed five core principles for Early Colleges: (a) a commitment to serving students from underrepresented backgrounds; (b) joint collaboration and accountability between postsecondary institutions, local education agencies, and the community; (c) provision of an integrated academic program that allows students to complete 1–2 years of college credit; (d) availability of comprehensive academic and social support systems; and (e) advocacy for policies to advance early colleges. Even though the ECHSI funding from the Gates Foundation has ended, Early Colleges have continued to scale up across the country, and many programs remain committed to the same core principles (Edmunds et al. 2017b). The curriculum in Early Colleges often seeks to prepare students for postsecondary coursework by focusing on literacy and real-world contextualization across the curriculum (Zinth 2016). Some classes may be limited to Early College students, while others are mixed with regular college students. K–12 and postsecondary stakeholders often work collaboratively on activities such as academic design, advisory or planning committees, and professional development for instructors (Barnett et al. 2013b). College courses are not limited to core academic subject areas, and some students may complete college credits in applied fields. Tennessee requires Early College programs to lead to advanced certifications in health science, engineering, or teaching, while Early College programs in Michigan must be aligned with workforce needs in the local region (Zinth 2016). While dual enrollment programs tend to be geared toward students who are well prepared and do not need much support, many of the students in Early Colleges tend to be academically underprepared (Barnett et al. 2015). In order to help these students succeed in college-level work, Early Colleges provide comprehensive academic and social supports. This may include mentoring, tutoring, test preparation, and seminars on topics like goal setting and time management. Early Colleges also commonly provide students with resources for the transition to college

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including courses on college success that develop skills such as how to seek out campus resources and workshops on how to apply for college admissions and financial aid. Early Colleges can be created through local partnerships between high schools and colleges, state initiatives, or sponsorships through intermediary organizations. Some states allow Early Colleges to operate under waivers from traditional high school requirements, while others have their own specific policies that provide funding and/or institutionalized practices for Early Colleges. Approximately 70% of Early Colleges are public schools and 30% are public charters (Barnett et al. 2013b). The Education Commission of the States has identified four types of state policy components that may support Early Colleges (Zinth 2016). First, some states have policies promoting access and support such as requiring outreach and notification to potential students and parents about Early College options, providing advising before and during Early College participation, and requiring parental involvement such as parent conferences. Second, policies may support program quality such as setting criteria for qualifications of instructors, ensuring the content and rigor is comparable to college-level courses, and setting standards for accountability or evaluation. Third, policies may support finances and facilities such as prohibiting students from being charged tuition or encouraging Early Colleges to seek funding from non-traditional sources like the local county board of commissioners or private businesses. Fourth, state policies may focus on transferability of credits by ensuring that Early College students can transfer their college credits to other public 2-year and 4-year colleges. There are four mechanisms through which Early Colleges are intended to improve students’ postsecondary outcomes. First, Early Colleges provide college exposure and high expectations for all students. Students experience college immersion by being located on or near a college campus. They have access to college facilities like gyms and libraries so that they can become familiar with the campus environment and may also participate in other campus activities like summer bridge programs or weekend programs (Webb 2014). There is some evidence that participants in Early College programs report perceptions of significantly stronger collegegoing cultures relative to non-participants (Haxton et al. 2016). One of the factors perceived to be essential in the success of Early Colleges is “mandated engagement” by which students are required to be active participants in the school (Edmunds et al. 2013). Early Colleges create an environment of mandated engagement by developing a culture of high expectations for everyone, requiring academic support for struggling students, providing social and emotional support, developing strong relationships between students and staff, promoting peer relationships and support, and providing engaging instruction. The smaller size of most Early Colleges relative to traditional high schools may facilitate relationship building. Second, Early Colleges provide all students with a rigorous academic experience to develop college-level skills. Research on dual enrollment has consistently demonstrated that students who take college courses while in high school tend to experience positive outcomes on proximal indicators like college enrollment, as

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well as more distal outcomes like college completion (e.g., An and Taylor 2019). Yet Early Colleges tend to provide greater access to college-level courses than dual enrollment programs in most traditional high schools. A report by Jobs for the Future explains that “the early college model was based on the radical idea that schools could motivate struggling students by raising expectations, and providing supports for them to do more challenging work, rather than placing them in remedial classes” (Webb 2014, p. 8). Early Colleges often provide early assessments to determine students’ level of college readiness and then offer a clear curriculum pathway to prepare students with the skills and content needed for college success (Rosenbaum and Becker 2011). Advisors provide guidance on points at which students can enroll in college coursework. Teachers also commonly receive professional development on how to implement college-level standards. There is some evidence that Early College participants perceive more rigorous academic experiences (Edmunds et al. 2012; Haxton et al. 2016) and perform better on state assessments (Berger et al. 2009, 2010; Lauen et al. 2017; Muñoz et al. 2014) compared to traditional high school students. Additionally, students unengaged or discouraged by traditional school settings can gain motivation and see themselves as successful in the college experience (Berger et al. 2010). Third, Early Colleges provide support services and frequent monitoring to ensure that students stay on track. Many Early Colleges have mandatory advising sessions or integrate advisory periods into the school day to address issues that may affect academic performance (Rosenbaum and Becker 2011). Due to the small size of these programs, they also typically have smaller student-to-counselor ratios than traditional high schools, so counselors can more closely monitor student performance in coursework and provide outreach to those who fall behind. Many Early Colleges often include mandatory interventions like extra tutoring for students struggling academically (Edmunds et al. 2013). Additionally, about 90% of Early College programs require students to take a “College 101” or “introduction to college” course that addresses skills like time management, organization, and study skills (Rosenbaum and Becker 2011). Fourth, Early Colleges help students to develop college knowledge, a factor that has been identified as critical in the development of college readiness (Conley 2010, 2012). Early Colleges manage the transition to college instead of requiring students to do it on their own (Rosenbaum and Becker 2011). They provide help with understanding placement tests and remedial requirements, preparing for college entrance exams, and learning how to apply for scholarships and financial aid. Students also gain first-hand experience in navigating many college processes. Early Colleges often require students to fill out college applications before they can enroll in college courses, and students gain experience with the college course selection and registration processes. Additionally, Early Colleges often engage in activities to help students understand the college process such as taking students on college visits, providing help with applications for admissions, working with families on FAFSA forms, and making concerted efforts to improve parental engagement in the process (Edmunds et al. 2017a, b).

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Impacts and Implementation of Early College High Schools Early College Impacts on College Enrollment Many early evaluations of Early College programs have been descriptive in nature and did not have adequate comparison groups to account for selection bias between students who choose to attend an Early College relative to a traditional high school. One of the earliest rigorous evaluations was an experimental study conducted by researchers at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to assess the impacts of the Gates Foundation-funded Early College High School Initiative (Berger et al. 2013; Haxton et al. 2016). The sample included ten newly created Early Colleges that had graduates in 2005–2011 and used a lottery admissions process. Most sites (N ¼ 7) provided an established course sequence that allowed students to complete up to 2 years of college credit, while the others provided an opportunity for students to complete 1 year or “some” college credit. All ten sites offered tutoring and college preparatory support, and some provided additional services like advisories or evening/weekend classes. ITT estimates were based on the impact of winning the lottery for admissions to an Early College program, regardless of whether students attended. Compliances rates were approximately 88% for the Early College group and 98% for the control group. Impacts were estimated using two-level modeling to account for clustering of students within schools. Early College students were substantially more likely to complete any college credits in high school relative to comparison students (67% versus 20%) and more likely to complete at least 1 year of college credit by high school graduation (50% versus 5%). Haxton et al. (2016) used the same sample and found that students assigned to Early Colleges had a significantly greater likelihood of enrolling in college compared to students in the control group (81% versus 72%) within 4 years of high school graduation. A follow-up study by Song and Zeiser (2019) tracked the same sample of students for an additional 2 years and found slight increases in college enrollment rates for both groups (84% for Early College students and 77% for comparison students). Impacts were greatest in the 2-year college sector, with similar college enrollment rates for both groups among 4-year colleges. No differences were found in program impacts by student subgroups including race, gender, firstgeneration status, family income, or prior achievement. In addition, mediator analyses revealed that high school experiences (including instructional rigor, student supports, and college-going culture) accounted for about 30% of program impacts on college enrollment (Song and Zeiser 2019). Another large-scale evaluation of Early College programs was conducted in the state of North Carolina by researchers at the SERVE Center at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Participating sites were part of the North Carolina New Schools, a public-private partnership that managed Early Colleges in the state of North Carolina (Edmunds et al. 2017a, b). These programs targeted students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, low-income students, and first-generation college students. All participants were expected to complete a college preparatory curriculum required for admission to the University of North Carolina System and to

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take college courses. The majority of courses were taught on the college campus along with other regular college students. All sites also provided college experiences such as visits to other colleges, as well as academic and social supports. The evaluation used data from 12 Early Colleges throughout North Carolina that participated in the first 4 cohorts of the study and used a lottery system to randomly assign students to Early Colleges. The compliance rate for lottery assignment was 87% for the treatment group and 98% for the comparison group. ITT estimates were based on students’ initial assignment to treatment status, and weighted OLS regression was used to weight observations based on students’ probabilities of selection for an Early College. The results indicated large differences in college credits earned by the end of high school, with an average of 21.6 credits in the Early College group compared to only 2.8 credits in the comparison group. Early College students were also more likely to enroll in postsecondary education with 6 years of grade 9 than comparison students (90% versus 74%). College enrollment impacts were greatest at community colleges (relative to 4-year colleges), which was likely because most of the Early College students were in programs that partnered with 2-year colleges. However, there were also statistically significant positive effects on the likelihood of enrolling in a 4-year college, which suggests that students were not enrolling in 2-year colleges at the expense of 4-year colleges. Impacts on college enrollment tended to be greater for targeted populations including first-generation and low-income students. While the experimental studies of Early Colleges have provided promising evidence of the effectiveness of these programs, they may have limited generalizability due to the small sample of schools and weak external validity due to the requirement that schools must be willing and able to use a lottery for admissions. To examine the impact of these programs among a wider variety of schools and broader context, Lauen et al. (2017) conducted a quasi-experimental evaluation using all Early Colleges in North Carolina. The state had a mature program with 78 Early College sites, which was among the largest programs nationwide. Additionally, the North Carolina New Schools organization provided centralized support to all Early Colleges, which may have helped to ensure that these programs were well implemented. The researchers used doubly robust propensity score matching to develop a comparison group consisting of students with similar academic outcomes prior to high school entry and demographic characteristics. In addition, a moderation analysis examined heterogeneity of program impacts among student subgroup of race and economically disadvantaged status and school-level subgroups of district performance and Early College location (2-year versus 4-year college campus). The findings indicated that Early College students were slightly less likely to enroll in 2-year college, which could be due to students completing associate degrees during high school. Early College students were about 4.5 percentage points more likely to enroll in a public 4-year college in the University of North Carolina (UNC) System. However, most of the gains appeared to be among less selective institutions, as Early College students were 1.4 percentage points less likely to attend a public flagship institution. The authors posit that these results may have occurred because less competitive colleges may be more willing to provide transfer credit for Early College

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coursework. The impacts on UNC college enrollments were greater for Black students compared to White students. Additionally, the program had greater impacts on UNC enrollments for students in lower-performing districts, which suggests that students benefit most when the alternate high school options available are weak. Early College programs located on 4-year college campuses also had greater impacts on UNC college enrollments than programs on 2-year sites. Given the effectiveness of Early College programs in small schools across multiple evaluations, there was an interest in whether these types of programs could be replicated in a larger comprehensive high school environment. In 2012, Jobs for the Future received a federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grant to fund the Early College Expansion Partnership (ECEP), which expanded Early College programs to 12 high schools, 14 middle schools, and 2 mixed grade schools in Texas and Colorado. The participating sites were expected to implement four elements including (a) an academic program designed to prepare students for college, (b) a “college headstart” program to provide instruction on college readiness behaviors, (c) wraparound student support services, and (d) organizational practices such as providing teachers with professional development. Edmunds et al. (2018) used a quasi-experimental design to match Early Colleges to a similar set of comparison schools. Program impacts were estimated using hierarchical linear modeling to account for clustering of students within schools. The evaluation found no statistically significant differences in the likelihood of taking at least one college-level course during high school. There was also no impact on other high school outcomes including the likelihood of taking or completing college preparatory courses and the likelihood of high school dropout. The study did not examine any longer-term student outcomes after high school. One reason for the null findings is that schools in Texas had really high baseline coursetaking rates and the sample size may not have been sufficient to detect further gains. The authors also suggest that the lack of significant findings could be due to issues with uneven implementation, such as a lack of availability of coaching for teachers in Early Colleges and challenges to obtaining stakeholder buy-in. In addition, it is challenging for comprehensive high schools to transform into Early Colleges, as programs must go beyond just expanding access to college-level courses to also supporting broader efforts to ensure adequate student preparation.

Early College Impacts on Longer-Term Postsecondary Outcomes Many of the evaluations of Early College programs have continued to track students’ progress through college to degree completion. The experimental study of the Gates Foundation’s Early College High School Initiative included postsecondary outcomes up to 6 years after expected on-time high school graduation (Song and Zeiser 2019). Approximately 45% of Early College students had completed a postsecondary degree by this time compared to 34% of control students. This included a greater likelihood of bachelor’s degree completion for Early College students (30%) relative to comparison students (25%). There were no differences in degree completion by

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student subgroups including race, gender, and free or reduced price lunch status. Although there was some evidence that impacts on degree completion were greatest for students with higher levels of baseline achievement in grade 8, the strongest mediator for degree completion was the number of college credits accrued during high schools – particularly for the outcome of bachelor’s degree completion for which these factors accounted for about 87% of the impact of Early Colleges. In addition to having higher degree completion rates, Early College students also benefited from acceleration, which would allow them to enter the workforce earlier and accumulate additional lifetime earnings. Early College students were also able to complete their degrees at substantial cost savings due to the program covering most or all of the costs associated with college courses taken during high schools. The experimental study of North Carolina’s Early Colleges also demonstrated positive long-term impacts on degree attainment. Using the original sample with 12 Early Colleges that used random assignment, Edmunds and colleagues (2017a) tracked degree attainment up to 2 years after on-time graduation. Approximately 30% of Early College students had completed any degree by this time, compared to only 4% of the comparison group. Most of the degrees completed during this time were associate degrees due to the short follow-up period. Program impacts tended to be smaller for underrepresented students and lower-performing students. A followup study by Edmunds et al. (2020) continued to track student outcomes to examine credential attainment within 4–6 years after on-time graduation, as well as college performance as measured by cumulative GPA. The sample was also expanded to include students who had applied to 19 sites over 6 years for the GPA outcome, although only the original 12 sites were included for longer-term follow-up on degree completion. The findings revealed Early College students were more likely to attain postsecondary credentials and to complete them more rapidly. Four years after expected college enrollment, approximately 38% of Early College students had completed a degree compared to 22% of control students (a difference of 16 percentage points). After 6 years, the gap in completion rates narrowed, but Early College students remained ahead (44% for Early College versus 33% for comparison students, a difference of 11 percentage points). However, the control group had caught up to the treatment group on 4-year degree attainment after 6 years. The impact of Early Colleges on 4-year degree attainment was greatest for economically disadvantaged students. The study also found that there were no differences by treatment status on college GPA (measured at multiple time points). The authors indicate that the lack of significant differences on GPA suggests that Early College students were not particularly advantaged nor disadvantaged in terms of their level of preparation for college. Instead, the primary benefit appears to be in acceleration by allowing students to complete degrees faster. Earning college credits in high school could provide momentum for students to complete degrees more quickly. Lauen et al. (2017) also examined the impact of Early Colleges on degree completion using the larger sample of all schools in the state of North Carolina. Postsecondary completion of associate degrees was examined 2–3 years after the target for on-time college graduation. The quasi-experimental results indicated that there was an increase in the completion of associate degrees within 2 years of 22.5%

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and within 3 years of 14.9%. Program impacts on associate degree completion were greater for White students relative to Black students and also tended to be greater for Early College participants who attended a program on a community college campus. The authors suggest that institutional ties developed during the Early Program may differ depending on the site location, which has important implications for understanding the program’s effects.

Implementation of Early College High Schools Costs of Early College Programs Early College High Schools are more expensive to operate than traditional public schools due to additional costs that may include tuition for college courses, college fees, transportation, lab fees, payment to course instructors, and college textbooks (Barnett et al. 2013b). Early College programs may be funded in several different ways. First, state and district funding may be used to cover operational costs like other public schools and may provide additional resources for serving special student populations such as English language learners. Second, Early College programs may be funded through high school and college partnerships where both the school district and the college contribute to the cost of tuition. Third, intermediary organizations may provide support, such as the case of Ohio where the Knowledge Works Foundation partnered with the Ohio Department of Education and the Board of Regents to provide over $10 million for tuition, fees, and books in Early Colleges. Some Early College programs may also be able to supplement with other funding streams such as federal GEAR UP and Tech Prep programs. Greater federal support has become available for Early Colleges in more recent years. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), schools have to identify underperforming subgroups of students and develop plans to accelerate achievement, and Early Colleges represent one strategy that ESSA has explicitly encouraged (Jobs for the Future 2017). ESSA increases access to federal funding to develop and implement high-impact practices through Title I to Title IV and may be used by Early Colleges for activities such as providing professional development to improve teacher preparation for college-level courses and developing student support services. Only one study by Atchison et al. (2019) has examined how the costs of Early College programs compare to the benefits. The authors calculated benefits using impacts on degree completion 6 years after expected high school graduation from the experimental studies in North Carolina and the Gates Foundation-funded Early College High School Initiative. In addition, administrative data on expenditures was collected on a subset of participating Early College schools. The additional cost of Early Colleges beyond traditional high schools was about $950 per student in each year, which added up to $3800 over a 4-year high school program. The lifetime benefits from the impacts of Early College programs on degree completion was estimated at an average of $58,000 per student, which consisted of $34,000 in

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individual benefits and $24,000 in public benefits. More conservative estimates of costs and/or benefits ranged from a net present value of $27,000 to $35,000 per student. The average benefit-cost ratio was 15.1, and the conversation benefit-cost ratio was 4.6. These benefit-cost ratios are comparable to other college readiness interventions like the TRIO Program for Talent Search and greater than those of other interventions commonly used to prevent high school dropout. Challenges Ensuring Courses Meet College-Level Standards Early Colleges provide students with early access to college-level courses, but programs need to ensure that both colleges and high schools are maintaining the same standards as college courses without Early College students. Duncheon and Muñoz (2019) conducted interviews with 108 teachers across 12 Early Colleges in Texas using a conceptual framework of sensemaking to understand how teachers interpret college readiness and support students in becoming college-ready. There was considerable variation across classes, as teachers’ perceptions of college readiness were dependent on their personal and professional experiences. Personal experiences affecting their perceptions of college readiness were based on teachers’ own prior experiences as college students, including the types of challenges they faced and the level of preparation that they received in high school. Professional experiences also influenced teachers’ perceptions of college readiness, as indicated by greater familiarity with college readiness skills in their own subject area (e.g., literacy skills among English teachers) and their assessments of strengths and weaknesses of students in their own classes. Teachers also expressed concerns that policies from their districts prohibited them from using college-level teaching approaches and that they felt pressured to ensure that all students passed even if they had not met college standards. The authors concluded that teachers largely made sense of college readiness on their own and that Early Colleges should devote more time to conversations about which skills to prioritize and how to develop practices to increase college readiness. Berger et al. (2007) also identified challenges to maintaining college-level standards during site visits to programs participating in the Early College High School Initiative. The programs were expected to implement “rigor, relevance, and relationships” into classes at both the high school and college levels. The site visits revealed some examples of teachers and learning practices that represented these ideas, but there was still a need for improvement around rigor. In particular, high school math classes tended to emphasize mastery of basic concepts and memorization over higher-order thinking and applications. College instructors reported being more likely to maintain their usual course standards if their classes included a mix of Early College and regular college students. Some college instructors said that they used less rigorous instructional standards in classes that only included Early College students. Gaps in Participation and Achievement A related concern to maintaining college-level standards is ensuring that all students are able to participate and succeed in

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these rigorous courses even if they have weaker academic preparation. Even though the Early College High School Initiative had a core principle that all students need to engage in college-level courses, only about two-thirds of students had completed any college credits by graduation (Berger et al. 2009, 2010). Early Colleges also struggled with achievement gaps, as students whose parents did not attend college reported lower GPAs and weaker educational aspirations on a survey from a representative sample of Early College participants. Another study by Edmunds et al. (2019) found no statistically significant differences in the likelihood of taking at least one college-level course during high school among non-participants and participants of Early Colleges in a comprehensive high school environment – although this may be attributed to the small sample size and high baseline participation rates in the comparison group. There is also some evidence that Early Colleges may have smaller impacts for students from underrepresented backgrounds and/or lower-performing students on more distal outcomes dependent on prior academic preparation like degree completion (Edmunds et al. 2017a, b; Lauen et al. 2017; Song and Zeiser 2019). Barnett (2018b) examined a STEM Early College Expansion Partnership (SECEP) which used the Early College model to expand access to dual enrollment and other college experiences among students in traditional high schools. The extent to which schools were able to increase opportunities depended on students’ prior academic record. For students who were least advanced academically, schools were able to overcome barriers by implementing initiatives such as student success courses, summer bridge programs, CTE articulated credit programs, review programs for placement tests, and on-campus experiences such as opportunities to shadow a college student. Without these types of supports, many lower-achieving students may not be able to take full advantage of the collegiate experiences available during high school. While most Early College students continue on to postsecondary education after high school graduation, some do not. Hutchins, Arshavsky, and Edmunds (2019) found that students’ reasons for not continuing their education reflected a wide range of challenges and barriers including financial concerns, personal problems, career indecision, negative attitudes about school, low college expectations, and concerns about succeeding in college. Some students without college plans reported few financial or academic concerns, but instead were undecided about their careers or the need for a college degree. This suggests that the decisions of non-college-bound students are not necessarily due to hardships faced by students, but instead may indicate a need for more help in developing more concrete postsecondary plans. The authors suggest that interventions should provide more personalized supports that take into account differences in goals, motivations, and challenges among Early College students. Difficulties Scaling up and Sustaining Early Colleges Despite the promising evidence around the effectiveness of Early Colleges, these programs are difficult to scale up to serve larger numbers of students. It may be difficult to establish new

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partnerships with local colleges, especially among community colleges that may already be underfunded and overcrowded (Berger et al. 2010). Edmunds et al. (2018) found that when Early College programs were expanded as part of a districtwide improvement strategy, colleges were not prepared for the quick increase in demand and were unable to offer enough courses. Some Early Colleges responded by recruiting more adjuncts, while others supported a “grow your own” approach that subsidized high school teachers for attaining master’s degrees that would allow them to qualify as adjunct faculty and teach college-level courses. Beyond making college courses available to students, many of the traditional high schools adopting Early College programs also faced challenges in changing the college culture within the school and making comprehensive changes to support student success. Another concern is that many Early Colleges have been established with financial support from private foundations, but they need to find a way to become selfsustaining since foundations cannot continue to fund them indefinitely (Berger et al. 2010). The ongoing costs may be difficult to maintain since Early Colleges have higher per-pupil expenditures compared to traditional high schools (Berger et al. 2010). Some Early Colleges have expressed challenges to providing academic and social supports due to limited funding or lack of transportation outside of the regular school day (Berger et al. 2007). Maintaining adequate funding may require leveraging public support and generating buy-in from parents to create demands for sustainability at the local and state levels (Jobs for the Future 2018). Beyond just financial support, many Early College programs have also benefitted from intermediary organizations that have provided centralized leadership and instructional support for participating sites, which may be important for program effectiveness. North Carolina New Schools, which served all Early Colleges in the state of North Carolina, abruptly closed in 2016, and it remains to be seen whether other entities will step in to fill this role (Lauen et al. 2017). Early Colleges may benefit from developing their own governance bodies that can unite senior-level administrators from participating schools, districts, and colleges to provide regular communication and coordinate policies (Jobs for the Future 2018).

Conclusions Taken together, the empirical evidence to date suggests that college readiness reforms including early assessment, transition courses, and summer bridge programs tend to have limited effectiveness at improving postsecondary success for academically underprepared students. The focus on short-term outcomes like testing college-ready may not improve longer-term postsecondary outcomes, and the limited duration of these reforms may not be sufficient to address underlying issues contributing to students’ lack of preparation. Without additional support, many academically underprepared students will face substantial difficulties in trying to demonstrate college-level skills while transitioning to higher education, which can lead to discouragement and a higher likelihood of dropping out of college (Bettinger

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et al. 2013). There was more promising evidence from Early College High Schools, which provide students with a comprehensive array of services throughout the high school experience. Evaluations of Early College programs in small school settings have consistently demonstrated sizable gains in college enrollment and completion, although these programs may be difficult to scale up to serve a greater number of students or to replicate in comprehensive high school environments. This chapter concludes with three considerations for future reform efforts and additional research to support academically underprepared students: (a) the importance of developing college readiness beyond academic preparation, (b) a need for integrated programs that align services, and (c) implications for equity. First, college readiness reforms tend to focus on developing academic skills and may also include knowledge about college processes, but they often fail to account for noncognitive skills and behaviors needed for college success. Kurlaender, Reed, and Hurt (2019b) identified four domains for educational attainment including aspirations and beliefs, academic preparation, knowledge and information, and noncognitive competencies like fortitude and resilience. Beyond just defining college-ready skills, there is also a need to consider how to develop a comprehensive set of indicators in multiple domains of college readiness and to monitor students’ progress on these indicators throughout their educational trajectories. This may be a particularly daunting task in terms of defining and assessing noncognitive skills (also referred to as metacognitive skills, twenty-first century skills, or soft skills) since there is no consistent definition of what these terms mean or consensus on which skills may be the most important for college success. Rowan-Kenyon et al. (2017) developed a cross-sector framework to account for similarities across terms and contexts among noncognitive skills in the higher education and employment literatures. They identified 509 distinct terms used in prior research for describing noncognitive skills that could be grouped into 42 categories. These were further refined into three domains consisting of intrapersonal skills, approaches to learning and work, and social skills. While this framework may be useful for improving collaboration between education and workforce entities, there is still a need for additional work to identify which of these skills are the most important predictors of college success, the extent to which these skills are being developed in the education system, and the types of strategies that are most effective for improving the development of these skills. Second, when considering the complexity of the college transition process, there are many different barriers that vary across students, and interventions need to consider how to address multiple barriers at once rather than individually (Page and Scott-Clayton 2016). While high schools and colleges often offer an array of support programs, there is usually little collaboration across programs which may limit their effectiveness. Kezar and Holcombe (2018) have described a recent movement toward integrated programs “that are connected or linked in an intentional way. Integration can occur over time (e.g., connecting different courses in a sequence) or across experiences occurring over the same time period (e.g., linking interventions in and out of the classroom or two courses offered at the same time)” (p. 5). This is very much the approach taken by Early Colleges, which provide a

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comprehensive array of academic and support services throughout high school for underrepresented students in the transition to college. Another example from California State University is an integrated program for underrepresented students in STEM that includes a summer bridge program followed by a first year experience and redesigned courses in STEM during the first year of college. These types of integrated programs may be difficult to implement due to challenges such as costs and the bureaucratic structures within higher education that result in fragmentation, but they hold great promise for supporting students traditionally underserved in higher education (Kezar and Holcombe 2018). Another example of an integrated program around college readiness is CUNY Start, a pre-matriculation program for underprepared students that focuses on developing college readiness skills during intensive class meetings for an entire semester before college enrollment (Scrivener et al. 2018). The remedial program includes tutoring, advising, and weekly seminars on success in college. In addition, the coursework tends to make greater use of effective teaching strategies such as emphasizing real-world contexts, eliciting student discussions, and developing study skills (Bickerstaff and Edgecombe 2019). Early evidence from CUNY Start has been promising, with participants being more likely to become college-ready in the first semester and more likely to persist to the second semester (Scrivener et al. 2018), although a longer follow-up period is needed to determine whether short-term delays in college coursework result in longer-term gains in student success. It is also important to consider how to continue to provide support for students as they progress through higher education. As Bailey and Jaggars (2016) note, “reforms that focus on only one segment of a student’s experience are insufficient to improve graduation rates, because the positive benefits of any reform will quickly fade when a student returns to the wider college and its traditional un-reformed structures and practices” (p. 11). The authors suggest that in order to generate sustained benefits, educational leaders must develop ways to connect college services from intake to degree completion and consistently monitor progress along the way. Lastly, high schools and colleges need to continue to identify barriers that create inequities along the educational pipeline and ensure that college readiness reforms are addressing these barriers. Holzman, Klasik, and Baker (2019) found that racial and socioeconomic gaps in academic preparation for college were just as large as gaps in other process steps of application, admission, and enrollment in college. This indicates the important role of K–12 preparation in influencing equity beginning in grade 9 – if not sooner. Schools need to begin interventions early as many of the skills and knowledge needed for college readiness are developed throughout students’ lives. As Kurlaender, Reed, and Hurtt (2019b) note, “college readiness is not an event, but a dynamic process involving individual choices, actions and beliefs, and structural constraints in opportunities, often at the school level” (p. 24). This means considering inequities in who has access to resources such as rigorous coursework, college preparatory activities, and information about the college process – and how schools can equalize this access. These types of considerations are important for ensuring that all students have an opportunity to develop the college readiness skills needed to succeed in higher education.

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Dr. Christine G. Mokher is an Associate Professor of Higher Education in Florida State University’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, where she is also a Senior Research Associate with the Center for Postsecondary Success (CPS). Her research examines state and local policies focused on college and career readiness and success, with a particular emphasis on student transitions from secondary to postsecondary education. Dr. Mokher holds a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt University and a master’s degree in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard University.

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Contents Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Neoliberalism and the Contradictions of College Access . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . More Than the Color Line: Institutionalized Forms of Oppression and College Access . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Incomplete College “Choice” Theories and Models . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Review of Literature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Theoretical Perspectives in College-Going and College “Choice” Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . New Approaches to Examine the College “Choice” Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Paradox of Education and the Black Struggle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Historical Perspective on Black Feminism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Black Feminist Thought . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conclusion: New Imaginings and Possibilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Research on the college decision-making process is extensive. However, fewer approaches have employed a critical lens to explore how power and its relation to students, schools, and higher education institutions shape students’ college pathways and trajectories. In this current chapter, Black Feminist Thought (Collins, Social Problems, 33(6):s14–s32, 1986; Collins, Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment, Routledge, 2002) is employed to examine how intersecting systems of oppression (i.e., institutionalized racism, sexism, capitalism, etc.) and power shape the college “choice” process. I extend on previous literature on educational inequities to consider the structural forces that constrain educational opportunities. In particular, through the standpoint of Black women and girls, I rely on constructs such as the matrix of C. C. McLewis (*) University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 L. W. Perna (ed.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research 36, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-44007-7_6

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domination and controlling images to highlight the limits of college “choice.” The aim is to the examine the various ways “choice” is constrained for Black women and girls, in order to develop transformative mechanisms to improve access to adequate education, increase college participation, and enhance life opportunities. Findings include how narrow depictions of Black women and girls and the trope of the advantaged Black woman in education stifle educational opportunity. Keywords

College choice · College access · Black college women · Black students · Black feminist thought · Intersectionality · Feminism · Controlling images · Race and gender in education · Educational inequities · Higher education · Power · AntiBlackness

Introduction Increasing the proportion of completed degrees is a national priority for the United States to become the leader in global educational attainment (College Board 2008). Thus, recent higher education inquiries and political agendas have shifted toward college completion, especially for low-income and/or Black and Brown students (Gándara and Hearn 2019). Although degree attainment is a pressing concern, student pathways first and foremost begin at the decision to pursue higher education. Though more Black students are graduating from high schools than in previous years, prevailing neoliberal logics and institutionalized forms of oppression that contradict equity and inclusion stifle their enrollment into higher education institutions. For example, among 18- to 24-year-olds, 93.8% of Black students, and 94.8% of white students completed high school (McFarland et al. 2019). However, 70% of white high school students enrolled immediately into college, compared to 62% of Black students (approximately the same rate nearly 20 years ago) (Hussar et al. 2020). Situating college access within the context of neoliberalism and antiBlackness exposes the significant challenges to increase Black students’ college entry and degree attainment. Others have begun to point out that “little attention has been paid to applying critical theoretical models of power itself to understanding higher education” (Pusser 2015, p. 61). With a few exceptions, college access research has not typically considered the power dimensions that are embedded in institutional practices and that drive policies harmful to Black progress. Germinal to this chapter is how systemic forms of oppression and the possession of power shape student pathways, and in particular, the college decision-making process.

Neoliberalism and the Contradictions of College Access The notion of access to and through college holds divergent and competing meanings for different stakeholders. On the one hand, there are efforts to enhance college access. For example, the goals of the college completion agenda include improving college

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counseling, aligning K-12 learning objectives with college admissions standards, and simplifying admissions and financial aid processes (College Board 2008). On the other, a commitment to broaden college access is not exercised by all institutions and, instead, is disproportionately relegated to community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), other Minority-Serving Institutions (e.g., Hispanic-Serving Institutions), and regional comprehensive universities (Baber et al. 2019; Elliott et al. 2019; National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Mathematics 2018; Orphan 2018). The reduction of stateallocated funds and the rise of the neoliberal university promote institutions to invest in their own sustainability, which threatens higher education’s commitment to public service (Orphan 2018; Slaughter and Rhoades 2004). Within this market-driven climate, college rankings, institutional performance, and reputation have become lucrative currencies (McDonough et al. 1998; Monks and Ehrenberg 1999; O’Meara 2007). Some colleges and universities are striving toward “the pursuit of prestige within the academic hierarchy” (O’Meara 2007, p. 122) by altering their purposes and making presumptions about student achievement and outcomes to inform their admission decisions (Dougherty and Hong 2005; Orphan 2018). For example, institutions “game the system” (Dougherty and Reddy 2011, p. 38) by ratcheting up admission standards and rejecting competitive candidates to appear more selective (Espeland and Sauder 2007). Restricting college entry indicates how college admissions are a political and economic decision that impacts students’ college destinations. The institution’s fiscal dependency on student enrollment, as well as weeding out students in admissions of those judged unlikely to complete (however determined), produces constraints toward adequately addressing inequitable college access. Further, policies that emphasize the recruitment of students who can pay out-of-state tuition dollars adversely impact not only the admission of in-state students, but also the admission of low-income and/or students of color (Jaquette et al. 2016). However, restrictive pathways into college also reflect racial ideologies and racist institutional practices driven by attitudes about communities of color, particularly Black students. For example, recent research mapping of university recruitment schedules on in-state and out-of-state geographic regions has indicated that high schools in key metropolitan areas where Black and Latinx communities are located receive the least campus visits, regardless of income level (Salazar 2019). Thus, institutional activity is driven by both neoliberal trends as well as racial ideologies that are longstanding and continuously emergent.

More Than the Color Line: Institutionalized Forms of Oppression and College Access The struggle for adequate educational opportunities for Black students continues to be met with the breach of the social contract, which in theory guarantees basic human rights (i.e., life), while upholding a racial contract that preordains and maintains white political and economic domination over racially minoritized groups (Dancy et al. 2018; Mills 1997). Though affirmative action in higher education was

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initially designed to redress racial disparities in educational attainment, enrollment rates into public 4-year institutions for Black college students, particularly selective public institutions, continue to be relatively low (Allen et al. 2018; Espinosa et al. 2019; Harper and Simmons 2019; Nichols and Schack 2019). Although the number of Black undergraduates is increasing, Black college students are concentrated in community colleges and disproportionately attend for-profit institutions, with the proportion of Black undergraduate students at for-profit institutions at 16% (Espinosa et al. 2019). The racial disparities in higher education are driven by the perpetuation of antiBlack racism (Allen et al. 2018; Dancy et al. 2018), which is exercised via not recognizing Black students’ forms of capital, counselors’ and teachers’ low expectations of Black students, the false racial neutrality of college admission policies, and persistent attempts to dismantle affirmative action (Harper et al. 2009; Powell and Coles 2020; Yosso et al. 2004). These structural barriers make it difficult to improve Black students’ college entry, yet reflect the racial and racist ideologies perpetuated by institutions. How college and universities convey their meanings about race and racism are linked to what some scholars describe as an organizational habitus (Byrd 2017; Carter 2012; McDonough 1997) that forms expectations and constrains aspirations regarding college opportunities. The notion that colleges and universities have an organizational racial habitus (Byrd 2017) is pertinent to the study of college “choice.” Racial ideologies are “the racially-based frameworks used by actors to explain and justify (dominant race) or challenge (subordinate race or races) the racial status quo” (Bonilla-Silva 2003, p. 65). Colleges and universities are racialized organizations (Ray 2019) that perpetuate their views of race through their organizational racial habitus (Byrd 2017). Byrd (2017) contends higher education institutions have a “particular set of cultural dispositions and accepted patterns of interactions,” which corresponds with how colleges prescribe “institutional fit” (p. 152). With the perspective that college decisions are an exchange between prospective students and higher education institutions (Byrd 2017; Hughes et al. 2019), further inquiry is needed on the meaning-making process that occurs among marginalized students and communities in making college decisions. Scholarship has demonstrated how ideologies impact how higher education institutions approach the college “choice” process (Byrd 2017); however, less is known on how racism and its intersection with other forms of oppression frame students’ college decision-making processes. While the habitus of students and their families contributes to decision-making, the present chapter expounds on how the intersection of systems of oppression can be an influential factor that shapes college pathways. This research underscores education as a site that reflects the racist and patriarchal ideological paradigms that marginalize Black women, who also are seriously understudied in higher education. Moreover, the challenges that shape Black women’s educational trajectories are often minimized in education research inquiry (Muhammad and Dixson 2008; Patton et al. 2016). Black girls and undergraduate women are marginalized in education research, policies, and initiatives. Research on women is primarily focused on white women, and research on the experiences of Black people is usually focused on Black men (Hull et al. 1982; Patton and Croom 2017; Smith and Stewart 1983; Winkle-Wagner 2015).

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Further, college access and success initiatives like “My Brother’s Keeper” and Black male institutes on college campuses exclusively concentrate on addressing the racial disparities in educational attainment for Black men (Butler 2013; NealJackson 2018). However, there are far fewer similar programs for Black women. The lack of a specific focus on Black women’s educational experiences obscures the understanding of their unique challenges and perpetuates divisive narratives that further marginalize Black women from receiving institutional support toward college-going. Within dominant discourses about academic success and educational attainment, Black women are represented as magical because of our1 ability to academically achieve despite the odds we encounter (Patton et al. 2016). This portrait is divisive. As contended by Lori Patton Davis and Natasha Croom (Patton and Croom 2017), “the failure to account for racism/white supremacy and gender/patriarchy when considering Black collegiate women’s experiences is nonsensical at least and absurd at best” (p. 2). I contend that despite considerable empirical data and factual evidence that illustrates how Black women are subjugated in different societal arenas (Crenshaw 1988), the negligence to include Black undergraduate women in higher education literature stems from a broader and retold pathological mythology involving controlling images such as the Black matriarch (Moynihan 1965), welfare queen (Roberts 1999), and superwoman (Wallace 2015), which are utilized to dehumanize and justify the oppression of Black women and girls (Collins 2002). I put forth that the trope of the advantaged Black women is used to evade addressing how intersecting systems of oppression affect Black women’s educational experiences and to justify educational inequities for Black students. Further, “fantasies of academic success and #BlackGirlMagic” (Patton and Croom 2017) do not reflect all the ways Black women and girls are seen in education. Black girls are also disciplined and pushed out of the educational pipeline (Morris 2016), which impacts their college “choice” processes. As researchers contextualize Black women’s educational pathways, it is imperative to examine the various ways systems of oppression shape college access. In postsecondary education, Black women are disproportionately concentrated at 2-year and for-profit institutions (Iloh and Toldson 2013), a trend that could be related to findings that Black high school girls are overrepresented in vocational curricular tracks (Muhammad and Dixson 2008). However, current analytical frameworks to guide scholarship on college “choice” do not fully account for a range of structural factors that distinctively affect Black women’s process of choosing colleges, such as the reasons behind the limited availability of outreach and mentoring

Throughout this chapter, I interchangeably use “our” and “we” for Black women for the reasons articulated by Patricia Hill Collins. I share her view of “inserting myself in the text” in which the “both/and [researcher and lived experiences as a Black woman] conceptual stance of Black feminist thought allowed me to be both objective and subjective” (Collins 2002, ix). I “take up grappling with positionality not as fixed and located in a physical space where research occurs, but rather, as it travels with us, within, and across social and geographic locations and communities” (Roegman et al. 2016, p. 47).

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programs tailored to Black girls (Butler 2013; Hardaway et al. 2019; Neal-Jackson 2018), the pervasive misconceptions surrounding Black girls’ talents and capabilities (Collins et al. 2020; Evans-Winters 2011; Ford et al. 2018; Watson 2016), and excessive disciplinary rates in the K-12 system (Crenshaw et al. 2015a; Hines-Datiri and Carter Andrews 2017; Morris 2016). Clearly, Black women’s college “choice” deserves more empirical inquiry in ways that take into account the intersections between racialized and patriarchal power structures.

Incomplete College “Choice” Theories and Models Traditional frameworks that address college “choice” center high school students and depict the college decision-making process as a linear sequence of events (Hossler and Gallagher 1987; Hossler et al. 1999). New approaches to college-going literature have pivoted to more inclusive lenses to examine the diversity of students and the variation of their pathways and trajectories (Acevedo-Gil 2017; Gildersleeve 2010; Iloh 2018). For example, though many college “choice” theories focus on students graduating from high school, in fact, 32.7% of Black undergraduates are over the age of 30 (Espinosa et al. 2019). Newer approaches to college “choice” inquiry that recognize the recent shifts in student demographics and students’ multifaceted identities, the processes of how students learn about college, and students’ mobility patterns or entry in and out of many colleges (Acevedo-Gil 2017; Gildersleeve 2010; Iloh 2018), are better positioned to address the holistic factors affecting these students’ postsecondary pathways. While each of these characteristics in college “choice” merits significant consideration, all are affected by larger social forces such as systemic racism, sexism, capitalism, and other forms of domination. As perspectives on college-going broaden, Black Feminist Theory is suited to grapple with how racism intersects with capitalism, sexism, and other forms of domination, which are perpetuated by various systems of oppression. In examining the role of forms of domination in the college “choice” process, it is imperative to interrogate the meaning and connotation of the word “choice.” As Black feminist education scholar Cynthia Dillard (2006) asserts, language is politically and culturally constructed, and “The very language we use to define and describe a phenomena must possess instrumentality” (p. 3). Therefore, throughout this chapter, I purposely use the terms college-going or “choice” instead of choice, to denote the “complicating conditions” (Cox 2016, p. 10) that have historically and perpetually troubled minoritized students’ postsecondary aspirations and plans, including those of Black women. In this piece, I argue that the application of Black feminist scholarship from the fields of Black and Africana studies, sociology, law, and gender studies can enhance inquiry about the college “choice,” particularly of minoritized students. In their critique of sociology as a discipline, Patricia Hill Collins (1986) described how “Black women’s outsider within status might generate a distinctive standpoint vis-avis existing sociological paradigms” and its benefits for social science research (p. S16). Living within the margins, Black women are granted a way of seeing reality, a standpoint that garners an outlook about the social world. Collins (1986) contended that by placing Black women “into the center of analysis may reveal

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aspects of reality obscured by more orthodox approaches” (p. S15). This approach can be applied to research in the field of higher education. Black women and girls’ perspectives and lived experiences provide mechanisms to perceive a reality that is typically obscured in traditional modes of higher education research. These perspectives, in particular, can reveal the intersections of systems of oppression that limit opportunity structures for not only Black women, but for historically marginalized students in general. Specifically, I contend that grounding conceptual and analytical frameworks from the standpoint of Black feminist theory (Collins 1986, 2002) can illuminate aspects of the college-going process that are obscured in privileged conceptions of “choice” that discount multiple and interlocking dimensions of oppression and power. This premise is fruitful for higher education because it not only positions Black intellectual women as producers of knowledge, but also invites consideration on how insights from Black feminist theory challenge and inform inquiry about college “choice.” For example, how might understanding the college-going experiences of Black girls and undergraduate women illuminate what we know and do not know about the social construction of college opportunities in general? In this chapter, I first review traditional theories of college “choice” and highlight aspects of college “choice” models that do not fully capture Black women’s education trajectories. Then I provide an abbreviated overview of the history of Black college access to illustrate the linkages between historical, material, and social conditions. Next, I conduct an overview of theoretical and empirical research on Black student’s college decision-making processes. Subsequently, I provide recommendations on how the application of Black Feminist Thought (BFT) can expand the understanding of students’ college-going processes. I conclude by proposing that new research on students’ college pathways and trajectories must continue to evaluate how power structures and the intersection of systems of oppression shape the higher education context and the experiences of students. In reviewing the literature, I follow Black feminist scholar Jennifer Nash’s (2019) spirit of critique, in that I envision this review of college-going frameworks as a “loving practice” (p. 58) to invite readers to consider and even reimagine perspectives of college-going that better examine power relationships between individual behaviors, institutions, and social structures. Focusing on these multiple levels, and how power is enacted within and between them to expand or limit college opportunity structures, expands possibilities for scholars to influence research and practice in a transformative way that advances social justice.

Review of Literature Theoretical Perspectives in College-Going and College “Choice” Research As early as the 1920s, scholars in the United States became interested in how students determine what college to attend and the factors that shape students’ decision-making processes (Comfort 1925). Since the 1990s, the body of research

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on college “choice” has grown, advanced by scholars like McDonough (1997), who examined how socioeconomic status interacts with school, family, and community contexts to shape college decisions. College “choice” theories and models are used to describe the influences and processes that shape college matriculation decisions. While college “choice” has traditionally been restricted to frame the steps toward fulfilling one’s higher education aspirations (Hossler and Gallagher 1987), other scholars like Perna (2006) have expanded the construct of college “choice” to include the process of “determining educational and occupational aspirations, which institutions to consider, whether to attend college, and which college to attend” (p. 126). The latter links the college decision-making process to college access in which the decision not to pursue higher education is recognized as an aspect of the college “choice” process (Perna 2006). Within the literature, the underlying assumption of college “choice” theory is that students (and their families and communities) have the autonomy to pursue higher education, and moreover, the “choice” to decide which institution to attend. Though a postsecondary institution must accept a college applicant before that applicant enrolls (a process that Hughes et al. (2019) describe as “institutions choosing students”), the narrative of equal opportunity nonetheless portrays students as having full agency to apply (Byrd 2017). While scholars problematize the notion that all individuals, regardless of their backgrounds, have equal postsecondary opportunities, literature has treated “college choice” and “college access” as two different, though related, areas of study. Gildersleeve (2010) describes how the field differentiates these areas of study in which college access research is framed as a “macro-level orientation that views the problem of educational opportunity as primarily structural” (p. 12), whereas college “choice” “addresses the micro-level processes of individual decision making” (p. 13). Hughes et al. (2019) operationalize college access and college “choice” in which the term “access” conveys the strong influence of structural forces on patterns of collegegoing. That is, it suggests that variations in the availability of, and student participation in, educational opportunities predict variations in outcomes. Conversely, the term “choice” focuses on individual determinants of college-going outcomes. Using a choice framing, it is possible to understand how students with functionally the same educational opportunities arrive at disparate outcomes as a result of their own preferences as well as messages communicated by significant others of influence (e.g., parents, siblings, friends, teachers, guidance counselors, and coaches). Studies of choice do not typically focus on how these patterns of disparate outcomes may reflect broader structural inequities (p. 416).

Scholars have contended that “the issues of college access complicate the study of college choice” (Bergerson 2009, p. 2). Yet, the framing of college access tends to focus on the role of social structures in affecting college opportunities, whereas college “choice” research focuses on how individuals and their behaviors shape college pathways. One of the major limitations of the “college choice” premise is that it minimizes how social structures and processes influence individuals’ behaviors. Yet, social structures not only dictate what “choices” are available, and to

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whom, but influence student perceptions about various pathways and their “choices.” College decisions entail a meaning-making process in which there is a reflexive interaction between individuals and their social positions with the hierarchical organization of institutions in society. In this section, I review the evolution of college “choice” scholarship with a focus on traditional and emergent theoretical perspectives that have been used to study college opportunity. By reviewing key frameworks, their scholarly assumptions, strengths, and limitations, this section engages with two questions: (1) How do higher education scholars conceptualize and discuss college choice? and (2) In what ways are social categories (e.g., race and gender) and social structures addressed in the theorizing and development of conceptual models related to college choice?

Traditional and Alternative Research Approaches Scholars have created models to systematically capture the complexity of the college “choice” process and to describe students’ transitions into colleges (Chapman 1981; Hossler and Gallagher 1987; Iloh 2018; Litten 1982; Perna 2006). These researchers have explored the multiple dimensions of the college-going process, including individual, organizational, and ecological influences through various approaches such as economic, psychological, sociological, and integrated approaches. Reviews of the extensive body of college “choice” literature have pointed to the need to better address the inequalities and stratification in college access and “choice” research, policies, and practices (Bergerson 2009; Perna 2006). For the purposes of this chapter, my focus is on the evolution of approaches to examine college decisionmaking for minoritized students and implicates how these perspectives address the issue of structural barriers in college access and “choice.” Combining both economic and sociological approaches, Hossler and Gallagher (1987) proposed a model to simplify the complexity of the college decision-making process. Through use of primarily a student perspective, the three-stage model depicts the college “choice” process as a sequence on how a “student develops a predisposition to attend college, conducts a search for information about the college, and makes a choice that leads them to enroll at a particular institution” (Hossler and Gallagher 1987, p. 230). The three-stage model captures the developmental process of college “choice,” in particular, how “students move toward an increased understanding of their educational options as they seek a postsecondary educational experience” (Hossler and Gallagher 1987, p. 208). It underscores how students’ interactions with individual and organizational factors produce student outcomes at each stage of the college “choice” process, which culminates in students choosing a college to attend (Hossler and Gallagher 1987). Individual factors include student characteristics, significant others, educational activities, educational aspirations and values, and college search activities. Germane to race and gender, the authors contend background characteristics are correlated with the predisposition stage and throughout the decision-making process. Organizational factors encompass school characteristics, college recruitment, and college and universities’ courtship activities. The model was employed in Hossler et al. (1999) study that centered on achievement of educational aspirations. Thus, the model focused on the individual level with

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attention to the role of parents, peers, and schools as contributors to students’ information processing. They argued that “students’ searches help them determine what characteristics they need and which colleges offer them” (p. 9). However, this approach is limited in that it misses the role of several social and environmental factors that include context (e.g., state policies on race and gender neutrality, longstanding effects of segregated higher education) and power differentials, and a white and upper middle-class assumption that all students have an equal opportunity to choose a college. Shifting from Hossler and Gallagher’s (1987) emphasis on individual student “choice” at various stages of process, McDonough (1997) adopted a sociological approach, employing sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of cultural capital and habitus to examine how social class status and schools shaped high school students’ college decision-making processes. McDonough (1997) defined cultural capital as “the property that middle class and upper class families transmit...as a means of maintaining class status and privilege across generations” (p. 8). For McDonough (1997), a college education is a symbolic good that is for “using, manipulating, and investing it for socially valued and difficult-to-secure purposes and resources” (p. 9). In a qualitative study conducted with white high school women from higher and lower socioeconomic status levels, and their parents, friends, and counselors, McDonough (1997) found that the social class and context of families and schools contributed to patterns of and opportunities in college-going behavior. For example, high socioeconomic status parents used their cultural capital as a resource for their white daughters’ college preparation and admission into college. Their participation was further supplemented by school actors. Other parents from lower-socioeconomic backgrounds, however, were not as involved in examining college options, often leaving the college decision-making process more up to their child and/or school personnel. Such cases typically resulted in the child attending a less selective postsecondary institution, even if they were academically qualified for a more selective one. While the concept of cultural capital has been applied in diverse ways in education research, what is clear from emerging research on educational opportunity is that the forms of capital or wealth that marginalized students possess are often not valued in dominant spaces that are white, cisgender, and upper-class (Bourdieu 1973; Lareau and Weininger 2003; Rios-Aguilar et al. 2011; Sablan and Tierney 2014; Tichavakunda 2019; Yosso 2005). Unchallenged, the devaluing of minoritized students forms of capital reproduces inequities, particularly in schools. McDonough (1997) demonstrates how cultural capital contributes to the reproduction of social inequality in college access. In this instance, cultural capital is a resource for advantaged groups to maximize their privileged social position. In addition to examining the role of cultural capital, McDonough (1997) relied on the notion of personal schemas to describe how students filtered their social worlds and educational opportunities, and on the extension of Bourdieu’s concept of individual habitus to understanding how a high school’s organizational culture, or habitus, could enhance or constrain students’ sensemaking of college opportunities. This approach contributed to the body of research on the role of both individual and organizational habitus in shaping college trajectories.

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In comparison to cultural capital, habitus is less applied in general education research (Gaddis 2013) but is more often applied in college-going research (Acevedo-Gil 2017; Griffin et al. 2012; Horvat 1997; McDonough 1997; Nora 2004; Núñez and Bowers 2011; Paulsen and St. John 2002; Perna 2006; Squire and Mobley 2015; Wells and Lynch 2012). Bourdieu (1984) referred to habitus as a “structuring structure” and a “structured structure” (p. 170). Habitus is the “common set of subjective perceptions held by all members of the same group or class that shapes an individual’s expectations, attitudes, and aspirations” (McDonough 1997, p. 9). In other words, “habitus is a result of the social conditions and related practices and interactions of everyday life that shape a person’s perceptions of their location and relationship to others around them, and ultimately provides ‘reason’ for their actions while navigating the social world” (Byrd 2017, p. 148). Put simply, habitus is a set of shared dispositions that are ingrained and derived from one’s environment and social locations. Some scholars extend the concept of habitus from a familial and communal dimension to an organizational level to argue social institutions have their own set of cultural practices and dispositions (Byrd 2017; McDonough 1997). The organizational habitus of high schools, their contexts and cultures, shape whether and where students pursue higher education. On one hand, schools are a central hub for students to get to know more information about their college options. On the other hand, however, these institutions are “the mediator of collective social class consciousness” (McDonough 1997, p. 10). Based on their organizational habitus, schools transmit and translate “college knowledge” (McDonough et al. 1998) that is tailored to reflect the social positions of the majority of the students and families that they serve. The concept of habitus has provided a lens to make sense of the interplay between social contexts and college destinations. Yet, how larger power structures affect social contexts, and the associated development of organizational and individual habitus that enhance or constrain individual student college “choices,” is less specified and examined in the literature. That is, while many studies of how students’ individual habitus affect college “choice” have been undertaken, far fewer have examined how students’ habitus are situated within institutions or a field (Horvat 1997; McDonough 1997) that is historically designed to privilege opportunities for some groups and to marginalize those of others. That is, far fewer studies apply a structural approach to examine how students’ responses to living in an oppressive society could shape their college “choices.” Black feminist theory, which analyzes intersecting power structures that perpetuate domination and oppression of minoritized groups, can offer insights about the social reproduction of inequality, which was a central focus of Bourdieu’s original work. In particular, Black feminist theory can offer insights about the construction of the “field.” The field is “a network, or a configuration, of objective relations between positions” (Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992, 97). At the same time, Bourdieu (1973) described habitus as a “system of dispositions which act as a mediation between structures and practice” (p. 487). Consequently, in this perspective, habitus describes how individuals and organizations embody social structures, because this concept defines how individuals relate to each other and the structures of society. Because

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habitus “reflects the internalization of structural boundaries and constraints” (Perna 2006, p. 113) regarding college-going, it constructs the rationale for students’ college “choice” behaviors. Without addressing the concept of field that accounts for asymmetrical power relations, the sole application of habitus to phenomena like college “choice” runs the risk of reinforcing deficit orientations and narratives of a culture of poverty about minoritized groups. Even still, Bourdieusian class concepts such as habitus were not originally intended to examine institutionalized forms of power, but rather, the process of internalizing and embodying social structures that reproduce class inequality, including how power relations are centered around symbolic violence and how social beings comply and participate in the maintenance of social division and hierarchies (Bourdieu and Passeron 1990). Even as scholars have looked to examine racial and class stratification in college access, social class often becomes focal. College “choice” research has often highlighted academic preparation and social class status as the strongest predictors of college enrollment; however, a predominant emphasis on these factors minimizes the role of race and racism and its intersection with other forms of domination in shaping higher education pursuits (Teranishi and Briscoe 2006). A limitation of habitus as a tool to explain disparate outcomes is that it is a means for singular axis analysis. As a strength of this framework, McDonough (1997) takes into account social class and social context to understand the college decision-making process. However, the focus on class as opposed to its intersection with gender and the omission of race obscures how other social identities could shape students’ trajectories. Byrd (2017) argues that habitus is not limited to class but intertwines with race. The social identities of elite college students influence their social interactions and racial attitudes, and Byrd (2017) demonstrates how habitus shapes students’ views of opportunities and racial inequities. As it has typically been applied in research, the concept of habitus serves as a useful way to understand patterns among homogeneous student populations. Yet, such applications of the concept may obscure variations of experiences within historically marginalized groups, including those along the lines of race and gender and the intersection of social identities. An emphasis on the perspective that high schools hold an organizational habitus that is class-based does not provide analytical tools to examine students’ experiences with racial and gender discrimination within the same environment. For example, considering McDonough’s (1997) finding that white high school girls and those from higher income backgrounds at a more affluent school (compared with those at a less affluent school) were more prone to attend selective colleges, it is not clear to what extent and how the advantages of attending an affluent school in the college “choice” process were also afforded to its Black students. On the one hand, we may argue that those that possess class cultural capital that is deemed congruent with the school’s organizational habitus reap rewards of college counseling and other support. Yet, studies have also found that schools have an organizational racial habitus (Carter 2012). When considering the disparate outcomes in student postsecondary destinations because of factors like tracking, counselor bias, and military recruitment, current models do not provide a clear framework to examine the full range of factors in an organizational habitus that shape

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postsecondary trajectories. Lastly, there are debates about the extent to which actors in Bourdieu’s social reproduction theory have agency to determine their life pathways, or the extent to which these actors’ life chances are already determined by societal structures (e.g., Swartz 1997). Expanding on the work of St. John et al. (2001) and Paulsen and St. John (2002), Perna (2006) developed a conceptual college “choice” model that conjoined human capital theory and sociological perspectives. Based on their review of prior research, Perna (2006) contended that separately economic and status attainment perspectives did not sufficiently address the college “choice” process, arguing economic approaches offer a framework for understanding decision making, but are limited by their failure to examine the nature of information that is available to decision makers. On the other hand, sociological approaches shed light on the ways in which individuals gather information, but do not identify the ways in which individuals make decisions based on this information (Perna 2006, p. 114).

In bridging these perspectives, Perna (2006) presents an integrated model that “assumes that an individual’s assessment of the benefits and costs of an investment in college is shaped by the individual’s habitus, as well as the school and community context, the higher education context, and the social, economic, and policy context” (p. 101). Through this approach, the model seeks to account for how there can be group differences in college decisions. Perna (2006) outlines the structural contexts that shape students’ college access and decision-making by capturing how levels of context are embedded and organize student’s pathways. The most internal layer is a student’s habitus which encompasses background characteristics and capital. Layer two is organizational habitus which entails the structures, institutional agents, resources of schools and communities. Next, layer three is the higher education context, which recognizes the place, role, and characteristics of colleges and universities. Lastly, the outlying and allencompassing layer involves the larger economic, political, and social contexts that influence life decisions like college “choice.” This approach has yielded a deeper understanding on how “situated contexts” shape the differences in educational attainment among social classes and racial groups (Perna 2006, p. 116), and has been advanced in more recent studies (e.g., Deil-Amen and Tevis 2010; Means et al. 2016; Squire and Mobley 2015). Perna (2006) also expanded their framework of college decision-making to more broadly examine student transitions and success. Drawing from psychology, economics, sociology, and education, Perna and Thomas (2008) developed a conceptual framework to provide a comprehensive definition of student success to encompass how it is a longitudinal process with four key transitions: college readiness, college enrollment, college achievement, and post-college attainment. The integration of human capital and sociocultural aspects underscores the importance of examining individual’s behaviors in their respective social contexts. However, this approach does not provide ways to examine how advantaged and minoritized groups’ differential power and privilege in those contexts could affect students’ trajectories.

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As carried out in earlier approaches, Perna (2006) relies on habitus to describe how “the system of values and beliefs that shapes an individual’s views and interpretations” (p. 115). While habitus accounts for the role of social context, the focus is on how individuals embody their social conditions. However, there is not a clear specification of what constitutes the field in this model to make sense of what social conditions are shaping behaviors. Further, this approach does not address how systems of oppression create social conditions. Examining further the concept of field and its associated systems of oppression could enhance the model, as the model strives to account for “sources of differences in college choices across groups” (Perna 2006, p. 107). For example, Squire and Mobley (2015) focus on the study of college “choice” to better understand how multiple marginalized social identities are negotiated in postsecondary decisionmaking. They found that, for Black gay men, racial factors shaped their college decision-making, like the decision to attend a predominantly white institution in part because of “larger societal narratives surrounding sexual minorities within Black communities” (Squire and Mobley 2015, p. 478). In another example, a man described experiencing racist remarks during an admission interview for a predominantly white campus, which shaped his decision to attend a HBCU instead. Although the racism evidenced in an admissions interview appeared to affect this student’s college “choice,” the use of Perna (2006) did not provide well conceptualized analytical tools to examine how racism might have influenced this student’s or other Black students’ college trajectories. A limitation of the employment of habitus in college “choice” frameworks is that it does not recognize the intersection of multiple systems of oppression, including racism and heterosexism, as “superstructures” (Ray 2019) that can circumscribe life chances. Though McDonough’s (1997) work spoke of how a high school’s organizational habitus reflected the broader US social class structure, it did not address how intersecting systems of oppression and power structures could shape college “choice.” Similarly, while Perna’s (2006) model focuses on the role of social contexts in shaping college “choice,” it is important to note that social contexts and the power relations that differentially affect individuals’ life chances based on their social and economic identities are not one and the same. Namely, a given social context involves the “internal dynamics of a given interpretive community” (Collins 2019a, p. 46), while power is exercised “where groups with greater power oppress those with lesser amounts” (Collins 2002, p. 274). More broadly, power also operates as “an intangible entity that circulates within a particular matrix of domination and to which individuals stand in varying relationships” (Collins 2002, p. 274). From this perspective, social contexts are situated in, but not the same as, the intersection of systems of oppression and power structures that shape experiences and inequities (Collins 2019a). Black women and girls live in a particular political context where the “convergence of race, class, and gender oppression characteristic of U.S. slavery shaped all subsequent relationships that women of African descent had” (Collins 2002, p. 5). While recognizing that accounting for social contexts to enrich analysis of social inequities (Collins 2019a) and to avoid essentializing

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individuals’ and groups’ experiences (Patton and Njoku 2019), it is also imperative to recognize the larger structural forces of power that shape those contexts and educational opportunities (Núñez 2014). Broadly, higher education research overwhelmingly examines students and their experiences, with less attention on the structural components (Hurtado 2007; Hurtado et al. 2012; Núñez 2014), and the structures that inhibit students’ pathways. While Perna (2006) contributes to framing how contexts influence each layer, the model does not account for racialized and gendered elements beyond demographic characteristics. New research on social inequities and social problems cannot be detached from complex theorization of power structures and systems of oppression. Such considerations call for new questions on how systemic forms of power are structuring student and organizational habitus and the ways they are manifested in college decisionmaking. A different theoretical construct that conceptualizes a “structuring structure” (Bourdieu 1984, p. 170) is the matrix of domination (Collins 2002). Through a Black Feminist lens, the configuration of society and social life is understood centrally through social and power relations. Collins (2002) approaches the analysis of power in two ways: (1) a dialectical approach that examines oppression and activism, and (2) an approach that examines the interconnected relationships between systems of oppression within their matrices of domination. Collins (2019b) describes how a matrix is a “structuring structure” that “gives structure to dynamic phenomena” but how “intersectionality adds a political analysis to these generic understandings” (p. 173). To conceptualize how power is structured, Collins’ (2002) concept of a matrix of domination shows how power is organized in various contexts via different domains. The matrix of domination “refers to how political domination on the macrolevel of analysis is organized via intersecting systems of oppression” (Collins 2019b, p. 171). According to Collins (2002, 2019b), there are four domains of power: structural, disciplinary, hegemonic, and interpersonal, that each and together, shape domination. Moreover, this framing provides a lens to analyze the arenas in which subordinate groups resist and seek empowerment. The structural domain describes how primary social institutions are interlocked and structured to perpetually subordinate Black women and men. The structural domain is defined as a constellation of organized practices in employment, government, education, law, business, and housing that work to maintain an unequal and unjust distribution of social resources. Unlike bias and prejudice, which are characteristics of individuals, the structural domain of power operates through the laws and policies of social institutions (Collins 2002, p. 301).

Through laws, policies, and procedures, social institutions, like higher education, enforce a social hierarchy that functions to disenfranchise and exclude. For example, higher education has systematically excluded Black students and other racially minoritized students from entering selective white institutions. Historically, this has been orchestrated through laws and judicial decisions that reflected the broader social order of de jure segregation. Today, the confluence of segregated housing, the

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placement of higher education institutions, and racial ideology continues the historical pattern of exclusion. Amalia Dache-Gerbino (2018) employed a critical geography analysis to examine how the depopulation of cities where Black and Latinx folks reside impacted college access and “choice.” Within a context of deindustrialization, white flight, and racially biased admission policies, Dache-Gerbino (2018) found Black and Latinx students lived in areas with a “college desert,” lacking 4-year institutions and limited to readily available community colleges and for-profit institutions. This finding is striking, as Dache-Gerbino illuminates, because college “choice” research has confirmed proximity is an influential factor in college decisions (Turley 2009), especially for Black and Latinx students (Braddock 1980; Butler 2010; Hillman 2016; Means et al. 2016). Dache-Gerbino’s (2018) conclusions demonstrate how white patterns of settlement maintain power and domination through the interdependence of social institutions like availability of housing, employment opportunities, and higher education. The entrenchment and rigid establishment of social institutions presents a challenge to reform, let alone abolish, oppressive social structures. Thus, focal to resisting within this domain is shifting the social order through changing laws of the land or establishing new doctrine. Collins’ (2002) examples of such a redistribution or reconciliation of the social order include revolutions, social movements, and war. Widespread transformation sounded unlikely a decade ago, but we find ourselves in a historic moment for reimagining or abolishing systems due to public outcry over police brutality and antiBlackness, structural inequalities uncovered by the world pandemic, and economic disruption today. These disruptions uncover large inequalities and call into question college “choice” frameworks that do not address the intersection of systems of oppression and the social structures that maintain the status quo. Where the structural domain organizes domination, the disciplinary domain maintains hierarchies through bureaucracy and surveillance. This encompasses how power relations operate within a social institution, despite the rhetoric of diversity and inclusion. “Discipline is ensured by keeping Black women as a mutually policing subordinate population under surveillance” (Collins 2002, p. 281). With the perspective of “intersectional surveillance,” Simone Browne (2015) contends racializing surveillance is a technology of social control where surveillance practices, policies, and performances concern the production of norms pertaining to race and exercise a power to define what is in or out of place...reify boundaries, borders, and bodies along racial lines, and where the outcome is often discriminatory treatment of those who are negatively racialized (p. 16).

College admissions criteria may be considered a mechanism for surveillance because they serve to detect who belongs and who does not. Studies have demonstrated that admissions criteria like standardized tests are biased against Black and/or lowincome students (e.g., Deil-Amen and Tevis 2010), and that performance on these tests is linked with access to material and human resources in one’s high school (Park and Becks 2015), as well as proclivity to stereotype threat (Perry et al. 2003), to which Black and other minoritized students are more vulnerable. Yet, these

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standardized tests continue to be used in college admissions, particularly to sort high numbers of applicants in selective public institutions. As a consequence, the doors of higher education are regulated in which access to selective white institutions is privileged and those who are “othered” are cascaded to other institutions (Allen et al. 2018; Contreras et al. 2018). The use of surveillance is further conspicuous when considering that it has become a common practice for higher education institutions today to purchase the names of students and track their web browsing history to collect information about their demographic background for recruitment and enrollment purposes (MacMillan and Anderson 2019; Selingo 2017; Zinshteyn 2016). Arguably, the use of surveillance technologies can further exacerbate inequalities, because it also informs institutions about whom to privilege or not privilege in recruiting, and the extent to which certain individuals might pose a “risk” to the institution in terms of factors like propensity to graduate (an example that illustrates how Black and minoritized students would be at a disadvantage in such predictive models). Discipline and surveillance occur before students submit their college applications. Extending Foucault’s (1977) notion that schools are disciplinary institutions, Black feminist scholars apply an intersectional lens to examine Black women and girls’ experiences with discipline, punishment, and surveillance within schools. In Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools, Monique Morris argues that, similar to the experiences of Black boys, Black girls are under surveillance in school via mechanisms such as the use of metal detectors as a “security” measure, law enforcement in schools, and zero-tolerance policies (Morris 2016). However, for Black girls, their experiences with surveillance stems from negative perceptions that render them as deviant because their behaviors are deemed “un-ladylike,” because, as I will argue later, their behavior does not conform to narrow standards of white femininity (e.g., Collins 2002; Fleming 1983). As I will later return to, this exercise of power is exhibited through education and warrants consideration on how discipline and surveillance in K-12 schools impact college access and “choice.” Resistance in this domain is typically achieved through shifting procedures and practices from within a given social institution or system. For example, Black girls are unfairly disciplined in schools because of their choice of hairstyle. The Crown Act (2020) is a campaign to prohibit discrimination against students because of their choice of hair style; the implementation of Crown Act policies could decrease Black students’ receipt of school infractions. In contrast to the structural forms of power, the hegemonic domain of power involves “ideology, culture, and consciousness” (Collins 2002, p. 284). This domain provides the rationale for oppressive power relations. Collins (2002) describes it as “a popular system of commonsense ideas that support [the dominant group’s] right to rule” (p. 284). Through narrow narratives and controlling images, hegemonic ideologies maintain false constructions about race, class, gender, sexuality, and other identities that are perpetuated by both the ruling class and subordinate groups. Hegemonic ideologies are (re)produced in research, school curriculum, mass media and functions to “shape consciousness via the manipulation of ideas, images, symbols, and ideologies” (Collins 2002, p. 285).

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In higher education, an example of a hegemonic ideology is the notion of “Pell Runners,” defined as “people who purportedly find filing a FAFSA and enrolling into college an expedient way to obtain a few thousand dollars” (Goldrick-Rab 2016, p. 69). The belief that financial aid recipients are potential scammers who take advantage of financial aid programs subscribes to a narrative to undermine the use of federal resources for students in real financial need (Graves 2019). Hegemonic ideologies justify the use of other domains of power such as discipline because exercise of such power “protects” the social order, in this case, ensuring low-income and/or students of color do not receive money they do not deserve, though there is not sufficient evidence to merit financial verification processes (Goldrick-Rab 2016; Graves 2019). Graves (2019) argues that because it emboldens financial aid officers to implement detrimental policies and practices that delay students receiving their aid, the disproportionate emphasis on the existence of Pell Runners “has become a tool to inform policies such as verification and structured disbursement, which overregulate financial aid for students who need aid to access their higher education” (p. 111). Graves’s (2019) conclusion elucidates how Pell Runners as a controlling image justifies disciplining low-income and disproportionately students of color. Resistance in this domain constitutes subordinated groups reclaiming, creating, and affirming their own self-definitions. The fourth domain of power is the interpersonal. The interpersonal domain encompasses how power is maintained at the microlevel through daily routines and interactions. According to Collins (2002), this domain involves the “discriminatory practices of everyday lived experience that because they are so routine typically go unnoticed or remain unidentified. Strategies of everyday racism and everyday resistance occur in this domain” (p. 299). In higher education, an example of this is Black respectability politics that manifests within HBCUs and other Black social institutions. Higginbotham (1993) defined the politics of respectability as “reform of individual behavior and attitudes both as a goal in itself and as a strategy for reform of the entire structural system of American race relations” (p. 187). Building on the work of Higginbotham (1993), Harris (2003) describes how “respectability was part of uplift politics and had two audiences: African Americans, who were encouraged to be respectable, and white people, who needed to be shown that African Americans could be respectable” ( p. 213). While respectability politics has historically been perceived a mode to empower and used as a strategy for racial uplift, because it emphasizes challenging stereotypes of Black people through acting “respectable.” Yet, there is an argument that emphasizes that Black respectability politics has involved conforming to expectations of respectability defined by the white dominant social order in the USA. Nadrea Njoku, Malika Butler, and Cameron Beatty (2017) contend that Black respectability politics has “helped maintain a racial order and hierarchy” (p. 787). The authors examine how the politics of respectability impacts students at HBCUs and argue that the admonishment and condemnation of certain cultural esthetics and behaviors further marginalizes Black poor people, Black LGBTQ people, and Black women who refuse to yield to the paralyzing power of Black respectability politics(p. 787).

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Though HBCUs have historically and continue to provide educational opportunities to minoritized students, it is also imperative for these campuses to foster environments for marginalized students within subordinate groups. Disrupting the power within the interpersonal domain requires interrogating how individuals and groups participate in subordinating others. Resistance in this domain can take on diverse forms because it is focused on how individuals with different identities interact with one another or how groups interact with reference to one another. Among Black collegians, researchers have found negative campus racial climates and the lack of racial diversity deters Black students from enrolling into the University of California (Contreras et al. 2018). In the aftermath of racial campus unrest at the University of Missouri (Brewer 2018) the share of first-time, first-year Black undergraduate entrants at the University declined by 35% (Brown 2017), suggesting that some Black students may have decided that it was unsafe to pursue college in such an environment. Further, the pronounced racial hostility on white campuses has some students of color, and Black students in particular, seeking refuge at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Johnson 2019; Mobley 2017; Williams and Palmer 2019) and other Minority-Serving Institutions (Thompson et al. 2019). Student enrollment at HBCUs has steadily declined in the past decade; however, this pattern shifted when the attendance of Black students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities increased from 223,512 in 2016 to 226,847 in 2017 (NCES 2019d). Changes in Black students’ enrollment patterns may in part be attributed to perceptions of supportive campus cultures; however, campus climate is not limited to what happens at the college but also shaped by external sociohistorical forces, “the events or issues in the larger society, nearly always originating outside the campus, that influence how people view racial diversity in society” (Hurtado et al. 1998, p. 282). The prevalence of antiBlack racism in US society may also contribute to Black students’ college “choice,” especially given the culture and climate of universities reflect broader society (George Mwangi et al. 2018). Factors like the expected cost of college, the amount of financial aid, and even academic qualifications do not sufficiently explain how students and families weigh safety, well-being, and humane treatment in the context of antiBlackness and other systems of subordination.

New Approaches to Examine the College “Choice” Process Indeed, more emergent frameworks of college “choice” have interrogated to a greater extent the structural forces that shape students’ college opportunity structures. In Fracturing Opportunity: Mexican Migrant Students and College-Going Literacy, Gildersleeve (2010) examined how Mexican migrant students “come to know college access” (p. 11) with the perspective of college-going as a mediated meaning-making system. Linking college opportunities and sustaining a democratic government in the United States, Gildersleeve (2010) argued college-going can be understood as “pedagogically produced” in the sense that it is a “learned social practice co-constructed by multiple agencies that interact with various social

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structures” (p. 2). Their critical inquiry on postsecondary educational opportunity applied cultural-historical activity theory and literacy theories to examine how college access is “a learned activity” that is “accomplished by the development of college-going literacies, which afford students the opportunity to respond to, navigate, and negotiate the complex power-laden processes that interact across collegegoing activity” (Gildersleeve 2010, p. 34). In sum, college-going can be “taught and enacted” (Gildersleeve 2010, p. 184). Specifically, in his qualitative research examining how Mexican migrant students practice college-going, Gildersleeve found that for these students, academic preparation, college access, college admissions, and college “choice” were more integrated and mutually constituting processes. For example, Gildersleeve underscored how study participants and their families had high aspirations to attend college. However, the students also had to learn “rules” to attend college, like (in their state of California), the requirement to pass the California exit exam in English to earn a high school diploma. Gildersleeve conceptualized college-going literacy as “a learned social practice” (p. 33), which for participants in this study dependent on a “community of labor.” The racialization of students in particular school contexts (including assumptions about their abilities due to factors like being Latinx or English Learners) and perceptions of financial ability to pay affected their meaning-making about college opportunities. Their motivation and dedication to their communities also shaped how they made sense of their college opportunities. In acknowledging the sociocultural contexts that minoritized students navigate and negotiate, the author focused on the role of higher education institutions, schools, outreach programs, and families in shaping and supporting a culturally relevant college-going identity and college-going literacy. Incorporating Chicana feminism to existing college-going models, Acevedo-Gil (2017) presented college-conocimiento as a conceptual framework to examine intersecting identities and college pathways. Bridging Perna’s (2006) model and use of habitus with Gloria Anzaldúa’s (2002) theory of conocimiento, Acevedo-Gil (2017) argued college pathways are mediated by students’ intersecting identities and inequitable educational resources. The college “choice” process for Latinx students is complex because of the developmental process of conocimiento, “a theory of epistemological development that entails challenging oppressive conditions through individual consciousness and social justice actions” (Acevedo-Gil 2017, p. 833). The culturally relevant concept of conocimiento draws attention to an individual’s consciousness and its interconnections with family, schools, and community. Consciousness is a compass on how minoritized groups navigate college-going and their social worlds. The college-conocimiento framework reckons with the worlds Latinx students navigate. College-conocimiento is defined as “a serpentine process where Latinx students reflect on the college information that they receive in relation to their intersectional experiences when preparing for college” (Acevedo-Gil 2017, pp. 834–835). Acevedo-Gil (2017) approaches the study of college pathways through a critical lens to “account for racialization, interconnected identities, and multiple contexts” (p. 834). Where deficit orientations about minoritized students proliferate, collegeconocimiento provides a culturally relevant model of college “choice”

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(Garcia et al. 2020). With the first space being el arrebato, the rupture and birth of something anew, the college-conocimiento framework describes an evolving, sevenstage progression toward an orientation of spiritual activism. The collegeconocimiento framework forges new ground in college “choice” literature in that it captures how aspirations and college decisions can be influenced by cultural aspects of particular social identities. For instance, in the college-conocimiento framework, el arrebato is conceptualized as the space where Latinx students’ develop college aspirations that stem from their individual, school, and community habitus. Acevedo-Gil (2017) advances college-going literature in connecting aspirational capital, defined as the familial and community motivation to attend college (Yosso 2005), to Perna’s (2006) application of habitus in college decisions. This approach employs a reflexive, asset-based perspective that affirms the agency of students as they process their educational opportunities and navigate oppressive conditions such as under-resourced high schools. Acevedo-Gil’s (2017) research challenges the linearity of the Hossler and Gallagher (1987) model by demonstrating the circular and spiral-oriented movement between the predisposition, search, and “choice” stage. Similar to Iloh (2018) (later discussed), both authors underscore the importance of information and perceptions of opportunity; however, Acevedo-Gil takes it one step further in thinking about “the mind-body-spirit connection” (Acevedo-Gil 2017, p. 841). This culturally relevant perspective invites a fresh conceptualization of habitus that incorporates how students’ multifaceted identities and cultures play into their college “choice.” AcevedoGil (2019) also applied the college-conocimiento framework in an empirical study on the college “choice” process for low-income, first-generation Latinx students. The author found that “participants considered various identities and knowledge of institutional resources to construct narratives about the likely obstacles they would experience in college” (Acevedo-Gil 2019, p. 121). Other scholars have also applied this framework to examine the role of fathers in shaping Chicanas higher education pursuits (Garcia and Mireles-Rios 2019), and first-generation and low-income Latinx students’ summer experiences that present challenges to successfully transition into college such as “summer melt” (Tichavakunda and Galan 2020). Though the college-conocimiento acknowledges oppressive conditions, this framework does not address the intersecting power systems that might constrain Latinx and low-income students’ perceptions of and capacity to pursue a full range of college opportunities. Acevedo-Gil (2017) aligns students’ reflexivity to Perna’s (2006) discussion of habitus and suggests college-conocimiento allows a student to reflect on their “intersectional demographics within a deficit institutional context” and how that awareness of multiple identities “facilitates the student internalizing the possibilities of pursuing a postsecondary education” (Acevedo-Gil 2017, p. 840). While one’s “intersectional demographic” could reflect one’s level of power and disenfranchisement in society, examining the role of intersectional social identities in college “choice” does not necessarily equate to an analysis of systems of power. To this point, Black and Gender Studies scholar Jennifer Nash (2019) articulates a Black feminist perspective that “who people are can never be understood apart from the way things work” (p. 75). Nash further elaborates that

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the stark distinctions drawn between identity and structure, distinctions that neglect how experiences of embodiment; projects of self-making, and self-performing; sensations of pleasure, pain, injury, desire, and so on are always fundamentally altered, shaped and constituted by social location, experiences of power and disempowerment (2019, p. 74–75).

Thus, students’ subjectivities and the social structures that shape their experiences are inextricably interwoven. Acevedo-Gil’s college-conocimiento framework situates one critical factor as affecting Latinx students’ college “choice” as the context of racially segregated high schools with fewer educational resources. However, this model can be expanded to better consider the ubiquitous nature of racism and its intersection with other forms of oppression. For Acevedo-Gil (2017), the crux of the framework is contextualizing how the gross inequities in the K-12 system shape students’ college “choices.” The statistical portrait of Latinx educational outcomes, similar to that of Black students, illuminates how structural inequities (i.e., lack of college guidance counselors, variation in academic preparation, and oppressive learning environments) limit college opportunities. Schools, whether they are public or private, with predominantly white or majority students of color, in urban, suburbia, and/or rural areas, maintain practices that sustain inequities. This is pertinent to understanding the college-going process for minoritized students because scholars have found that even in well-resourced schools, race still matters in influencing college-going outcomes, with Black students attending less selective institutions or receiving less support from their teachers and counselors, despite being equivalently academically qualified as others (Chapman 2014; Lewis and Diamond 2015; LewisMcCoy 2014). This is important to be mindful of as researchers determine where one might suspect inequities exist, and instead consider how all schools are susceptible in reproducing oppressive conditions. While arguing that empirical research on college “choice” tends to employ an economic perspective, a “rational process by which an individual estimates the economic and social benefits of attending college” (p. 229) or a sociological perspective in which “the extent to which high schools graduates’ socioeconomic characteristics and academic preparation predispose them to enroll at a particular type of college” (p. 229), Iloh (2018) argues that an ecological approach that takes into account a broader a way of settings is most appropriate to fully understand college decision-making parameters. The author employs an ecosystem perspective to advance considerations on the relationship between individuals, conditions and experiences, and the environments they inhabit. Through her proposed framework, the author is attentive to how the context of information, time, and opportunity ultimately shape enrollment decision(s). In this framework, information describes “both the access to and the quality of information students harness in making college-going decisions” (p. 236), while time is a term employed to encompass the “moments and events that have occurred throughout one’s life as well as an individual’s chronological age” (p. 237). The dimension of context of opportunity is utilized to capture “the perceived and real opportunity any student has in their pursuit of higher education generally and specific institutions in particular” (p. 238). While

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Iloh’s framework calls for context-specific data collection to gather deeper understandings of students with diverse backgrounds and their pathways, the theory centers on the roles of the individual and their ecosystem, rather than how broader economic and social structures shape social realities, and therefore, college pathways. That is, although the framework takes into account a broader array of settings and students (including post-traditional students), how oppressive power dynamics shape student college pathways are not made as clear. Taken together, traditional and new models have aided in advancing the understanding of the complexity of the college-going experience. However, one of the findings from this brief review of theories of college “choice” is that all have limited analytical capability to articulate interlocking systems of power and oppression that can also construct college opportunities. These limitations leave scholars without more precise perspectives, concepts, and language to address how institutionalized forms of oppression and power constitute structures that stifle college opportunity. The central objective of the rest of this chapter is to deepen the understanding about college pathways by applying Black Feminism, broadly, and Black Feminist Thought (BFT) specifically, to put forth an intersectional approach that considers how racism, sexism, and other forms of domination interlock and shape student pathways. The employment of an intersectional approach grounded in Black Feminist Thought can encourage scholars to “engage in more critical analyses of their data and generate more accurate conclusions” (Museus and Griffin 2011, p. 6). More recently, scholars have underscored the importance of examining larger forces that contribute to shaping students’ experiences and that shape institutional and social contexts (Hurtado et al. 2012; Núñez 2014). However, this is often neglected in higher education research. Núñez (2014) concluded “the application of intersectionality to empirical studies has largely been limited to descriptions of these actors’ experiences, rather than organizational dynamics among social actors or other entities that shape those experiences” (p. 46, emphasis original). The current chapter seeks to further these developments in applying Black Feminist Thought to understand how multiple dimensions of the college “choice” process are affected by intersecting systems of oppression and power structures. To be clear, this is not to suggest Black Feminist Thought as a new college “choice” model, but rather, to position Black Feminist Thought as having the potential to advance understanding of the various factors and forces that constrain and foster equitable access to college for Black women and girls in particular, and minoritized students and systematically advantaged students more broadly.

The Paradox of Education and the Black Struggle Problematizing College “Choice” Moving toward a Black feminist approach to examine students’ college pathways and decision-making processes, I begin this section by problematizing the notion of “choice.” Previous scholarship has used “choice” to denote the inequities in college access for minoritized and nontraditional students (Cox 2016; Goldrick-Rab 2006;

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Iloh 2018; Rodriguez and Nuñez 2015). Similarly, I approach the limits of college “choice” from a critical race and Black feminist standpoint that centers on how educational systems in the United States are entrenched with structural impediments that undermine college equity and reflect broader systems of oppression (Collins 2002; Harris 1993; Ladson-Billings 1998; Patton 2016). As contended by Núñez (2014), Collins’s (2002) concept of the matrix of domination provides a lens to examine the intersection of systems of oppression and how higher education shapes and is shaped by power relations. Applying the structural domain of power, how interlocking social institutions dominate through law and policies, entails identifying how power and oppression in higher education has constrained “choice” and evolved over time (Collins 2002). Thus, I take into account a long-term historical perspective of the Black struggle to access education (Mustaffa 2017) that has been fortified by other social institutions such as the US legal system (Chapman et al. 2020), and de jure and de facto patterns of racial segregation and housing (Dache-Gerbino 2018). Examining the historicity, or “the macro-level role of history in shaping these broader dynamics” (Núñez 2014, p. 52), of “choice” elucidates the importance of taking a historical perspective in understanding how societal structures are constructed and evolve to circumscribe educational opportunities for minoritized groups. One of the issues that more traditional conceptions of “choice” overlook, particularly in college “choice” of Black folks, is how historical violence has shaped opportunity structures and systematically restricted access to a quality education. The history of Black people in higher education indicates that several interlocking and distinctive societal structures – including chattel slavery, de jure and de facto restrictions on access to postsecondary education – have restricted their postsecondary opportunities (Anderson 1988; Dancy et al. 2018; Evans 2008; Harper et al. 2009; Mustaffa 2017; Rogers 2012). In this section, I discuss the history and concept of educational violence (Mustaffa 2017) to illustrate the limits of college “choice.” Education violence is a term to describe “how marginalized people both in and outside of formal systems of schooling have had their lives limited and ended due to white supremacy” (Mustaffa 2017, p. 711, emphasis original). This history of white supremacy goes back four centuries before the founding of the United States. As late as 1619, Black folks were abducted, chained, battered, and rendered chattel: The African was represented as chattel in their economic image, as slaves in their political and social image, as brutish and therefore inaccessible to further development, and finally as Negro, that is without history (Robinson 2000, p. 187).

The process of racializing and dehumanizing “the Other” (Collins 2002) in instituting chattel slavery laid the foundation for the formation of a racialized capitalist state. Those who survived the gruesome transatlantic voyage to the eastern shores of colonial America were forced into slavery. Enslaved African people were subjected to dehumanization, including being prohibited from and criminalized for learning how to read and write. In fact, it was deemed a crime to teach an enslaved or free Black person (Anderson 1988).

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As the institution of slavery expanded into occupied Indigenous land, the birth of US higher education institutions to serve the white ruling classes began. It is no mere coincidence that the same decade enslaved African people arrived in Massachusetts, the first higher education institution, Harvard University, was founded in Cambridge in 1636. Foundational to the development of colonial colleges was a dependency on the institution of slavery; exploited labor was instrumental in the construction of colleges. Harvard University, then Harvard College, was bestowed as the locale to train and prepare the elite class of white men for clergy and leadership positions, while enslaved African people were subjected to serve the constituents of the college (Wilder 2013). That is, “Black people erected the buildings, cooked the food, and cleaned the dormitories and yet were not understood as laborers, but as property” (Dancy et al. 2018, p. 182), while Black women who maintained the campus were abused, sexually assaulted, and raped on college grounds by students (Wilder 2013). The history of the development of the first US colleges exposes exclusion as a fundamental feature of higher education in the nation. Since the founding of the colonial colleges, the “choice” to attend college was not afforded to racially minoritized groups and white women. For Indigenous populations, the college served as grounds to impose evangelism (Wilder 2013). It was not until 1823, 187 years after the first colleges were established, that Alexander Lucius Twilight became the first Black American to earn a college degree from Middlebury College (Slater 1994). For Black women, receipt of a college education first occurred decades later, with Lucy Ann Stanton earning a certificate in 1850, and Mary Jane Patterson earning a degree in 1862, followed by Fanny M. Jackson and Frances J. Norris in 1865, all from Oberlin College in Ohio (Commodore et al. 2018; Evans 2008; Perkins 1993; Rogers 2012; Slater 1994). During the nineteenth century, it was disputed whether college participation should be afforded to Black people, for we were viewed other than human (i.e., Dred Scott v. Sandford) (Anderson 1988). Amidst controversy and during an era when the majority of Black Americans were enslaved, Oberlin College was one of the first higher education institutions to admit Black students (Perkins 1993; Waite 2002). Under Plessy v. Ferguson, however, de jure segregation maintained “separate but equal” educational institutions in theory, a position supported and sustained by both Northern and Southern politicians and judges. Oberlin College was made available to Black folks from its inception (Waite 2002), whereas the majority of historically white institutions did not accept Black students until the 1950s and 1960s (Allen and Jewell 2002; Slater 1994). The need for racially segregated institutions was affirmed in the Morrill Act of 1890, which established “land” grants to establish Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Allen et al. 2007). The exclusion of Black students from higher education in these times reflected a “possessive investment in whiteness” (Lipsitz 1995) in which higher education and the right for white people to exclusively enjoy its benefits functioned as a form of “whiteness as property” (Harris 1993; Ladson-Billings 1998). In the aftermath of slavery, the education of Black people was perpetually perceived as a threat to white dominance and the social order (Browne 2015; Hartman 2007). For example, Rogers (2012) describes how the expansion of Black higher education through the Great

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Depression, particularly the Atlanta University Center Consortium, was met with white resentment: “For many whites who did not attend college, and most did not, the presence of articulate, confident, polished black students oftentimes undermined their sense of superiority and thus their sense of self” (p. 23). After the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling that overturned the conception of “separate but equal” established in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case, racial injustice and separation of postsecondary opportunities through segregation in higher education persisted. For instance, the case of Adams v. Richardson (1973) found that ten states were noncompliant to adhering to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because of their failure to desegregate their higher education systems (Allen et al. 2018; Egerton 1974). Today, scholars have shown how antiBlack racism thwarts equitable access to education (Allen et al. 2018; Dancy et al. 2018; Dumas and ross 2016; Mustaffa 2017), citing as evidence affirmative action bans (Okechukwu 2019), opposition of school integration and the aftermath of desegregation policy (Dumas 2016), overdisciplining Black students in schools (Powell and Coles 2020; Wun 2016), and hostile racial climates in schools and universities (Abrica et al. 2020; Chapman 2014). An especially notable example is the perpetual underfunding of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which provide significant and unique educational opportunities for Black and other minoritized students (Williams et al. 2019). HBCUs constituted 2.2% of degree-granting institutions and 1.48% of total college enrollment in 2017 (NCES 2019a, c). In 2017–2018, these institutions served approximately 9% of today’s Black college enrollment population, and conferred 13.5% of the bachelor’s degree conferred to Black students in 2017–2018 (NCES 2019e, f). Yet, they continue to receive far less funding than other institutions, although they provide educational opportunities to students who require much more academic and financial support than those at more well-funded institutions (Carnevale and Strohl 2013; NASEM 2018). The historical patterns of yesterday continue to impede the present educational conditions for Black students, restricting access to full college “choice” for Black students. Despite the sociopolitical conditions that have limited Black Americans’ postsecondary opportunities, Black students, their families, and communities have always highly valued and strived to pursue higher education (e.g., Freeman 2005). Formerly enslaved Black Americans seized their freedom and immediately sought education as a mechanism to improve their social position. Education was yearned by free and formerly enslaved Black people because education was viewed as a portal toward liberation (Anderson 1988; Collins 2002). Collins (2002) describes how Black women’s support for education encompasses how “education has long served as a powerful symbol for the important connections among self, change, and empowerment in African American communities” (p. 210). Black women in particular were instrumental in using education as a tool for racial uplift (Perkins 1993). For instance, Lucy C. Laney, a graduate of Atlanta University, founded Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in 1886. In 1904, Mary McLeod Bethune, Laney’s protege, opened the Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School, now Bethune-Cookman College (Giddings 1984). For Black students, pursing higher

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education has been a site of struggle, but also perceived as a tool for liberation (Horvat and Davis 2011; Sojoyner 2016). This tension is worth exploring further when exploring the disparity between Black students’ higher education aspirations and attainment rates (Freeman 2005).

Racial Theories in Higher Education and Empirical Research on Black Student’s College-Going Processes Early empirical research on college “choice” found that Black Americans “choose” postsecondary education pathways in ways that incorporate racial concerns. To investigate the role of race in the college “choice” process, McDonough et al. (1997) expanded on Hossler and Gallagher’s (1987) three-phase model to incorporate Bourdieu’s concepts of cultural capital and habitus as class- and race-specific constructs that impact how and where Black students decide to attend a college or university. Specifically, the authors compared factors that influenced Black students’ college “choice” process to attend HBCUs or predominantly white institutions. They framed college “choice” as a “result of a complex relationship (not a simple matching) between background characteristics, high school activities, aspirations (which are affected by perception of available opportunities), college choice behaviors, and self-concept” (McDonough et al. 1997, p. 12). This model emphasizes how Black students convert their cultural capital into what the authors describe as “social profits” (McDonough et al. 1997, p. 15). This study’s descriptive and regression analysis compared the characteristics and predictors of Black student’s enrollment into a HBCU or a predominantly white institution. It found that student religion, schools’ reputation, parents’ wishes, referrals, and belief that alums obtain good jobs positively influenced decisions to attend a HBCU. Its findings were consistent with more recent findings that HBCU alumni in students’ families and communities positively influence decisions to attend a HBCU (Johnson 2019). Moreover, McDonough et al. (1997) found a positive relationship between students’ individual aspirations and self-concepts and subsequent decisions to enroll in a HBCU. In comparison, college guidance counselors, athletic involvement, the close proximity of the college to their home, availability of financial aid, and college’s academic reputation and specialized programs were key indicators for matriculation into white institutions. The authors contended that students who are interested in promoting racial understanding may be more interested in improving race relations by attending a predominantly white institution (McDonough et al. 1997). In conducting research about the disconnection between Black students’ high education aspirations and their low participation in higher education, Kassie Freeman (2005) advanced the Hossler and Gallagher’s (1987) model to include her concept of predetermination. Specifically, she explored how environmental “circumstances that are outside of the students’ control” (p. 111), such as the culture and characteristics of one’s high school, influence college decisions. Freeman found that school officials’ low expectations of Black students negatively shaped students’ perceptions of their ability, and, in turn, what higher education institutions they were “channeled” into. Further, she found that culturally relevant curricula, services, and

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resources to support and guide college decision-making for Black students were missing from schools. This finding highlighted the importance of structural factors, including differential resource allocation to schools, in shaping college “choice.” Further, Freeman (2005) found that familial influence plays a significant role in college decisions, but not in the ways considered in preexisting “choice” frameworks. She found that, regardless of their educational attainment, Black families instilled in their children high academic aspirations. In cases where these families had low or no postsecondary attainment, a central motivation for instilling these aspirations was for the students to achieve an educational level never before obtained in the family. Considering that having higher parental educational attainment confers fewer benefits (including transmitting income and wealth) for Black students than white students (Bumpus et al. 2020), it is important to expand consideration of how the role of educational attainment may differ for Black students compared to other groups. Black and Latinx students are stratified in lower selectivity schools that provide fewer resources to encourage their persistence and completion, and trends indicate that, in recent years, the most “elite” colleges have become more predominantly white (Carnevale and Strohl 2013). These findings have long-term occupational, income, and wealth implications, as Black students who graduate from selective institutions are more likely to enroll in graduate school and earn higher salaries (e.g., Bowen and Bok 1998). Therefore, akin to the perpetual patterns of Black exclusion in higher education, some studies on Black students’ college decisions have rightly focused on the factors that shape the type of institutions they attend (Freeman 1999; Johnson 2017; Tobolowsky et al. 2005). For example, Van Camp, Barden, Sloan, and Clarke (2009) conducted a quantitative study with 167 Black undergraduates of a HBCU to provide insight on the race-related factors that influenced their decisions. They found that racial composition and the opportunity to develop one’s racial identity were two factors positively influencing Black students’ decisions to attend a HBCU. In another study, Van Camp et al. (2010) examined the role of race in the college decision to attend a HBCU. The authors found that students with fewer Black intragroup interactions prior to college were more likely to attend a HBCU. In a similar vein, Freeman (2005) found that Black students who attended predominantly white high schools were more likely to want to attend a HBCU, because of a desire and sense of obligation to learn more about their culture and roots. Such an opportunity might not have been available in their high schools. Holland (2020) found that the quantity and quality of cross-racial interactions in high school and perceptions of how a college environment would prepare them to navigate diverse environments influenced Black students’ college “choice.” Van Camp et al. (2010) found Black high school students whose race was central to their identities were more likely to attend HBCUs. Likewise, in their study of Black gay mens’ college “choice,” Squire and Mobley (2015) found that “participants who self-identified more with their race ultimately attended the HBCU. Those who self-identified more as gay or neither identity attended the PWI” (p. 476). The authors also found students’ perceptions of the campuses climates as an influential factor, in that some Black gay men did not attend a white campus because of how

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they perceived the racial climate, and concluded that attending HBCUs would enable them to feel more a part of a scholarly community, at an institution that valued their contributions (Squire and Mobley 2015). The larger body of college “choice” literature also indicates that geographical proximity to a student’s family of origin shapes college decisions. Research about Black college “choice” further indicates how geographical proximity or location interacts with systems of oppression and identity that shapes Black students’ college destinations. For example, a study on Black gay men’s college decisions found that their assessments of a college’s location was linked to their perceptions of being able to “come out” (Strayhorn et al. 2008). Butler (2010) conducted a quantitative study to examine the relationship between the process of college “choice” and segregation. He interpreted the resulting association between being Black and attending a HBCU in Texas (where he conducted his analysis) as related to the disproportionate proximity of the HBCUs to Black students’ homes in that state, itself a product of historical residential segregation in that state. In their study of Black rural students’ college “choice,” Means et al. (2016) found that these students aspired to attend college, but were concerned about leaving home and being away from their families. Participants in this study lived in a “college desert” (Dache-Gerbino 2018), with even the “local” community college being 45 min away (Means et al. 2016). Geographical location is also a reason why Black students matriculate into community college and for-profit institutions. For example, Lowry (2017) investigated the factors that led Black students to “undermatch,” that is, attend a community college, although they were academically eligible to attend a 4-year institution. Students expressed how concerns about responsibilities to their families of origin, the capacity to pay for college, geographical proximity to their families, and potential to adjust smoothly to college shaped perceptions of where they could enroll. These considerations led them to perceive that community college was their only enrollment option. While lack of information about college options also played a role in these particular students’ “choices,” other research indicates that even among Black high school students whose teachers and counselors encourage their higher education pursuits, some students still lack college-going knowledge or accurate information about financial aid because of the limited resources at their schools (Means et al. 2016), including limited access to school personnel (Corwin et al. 2004). Studies have also found that, even when Black students have demonstrated high academic ability, high educational aspirations, and high support and encouragement from their families, Black students tend to be stigmatized by their high school teachers and counselors (Chapman 2014; Goings and Sewell 2019; Muhammad 2008). Many scholars have interrogated the underutilization of racial theories to examine racial disparities in society (Bonilla-Silva and Baiocchi 2001; Omi and Winant 2014). Similarly, higher education scholars have argued that the development of educational theories that incorporate racial theories could significantly enhance the understanding of racial disparities in school inequities and student outcomes (Harper 2012; Ladson-Billings and Tate 1995; Patton et al. 2007). In response to these critiques, Thandeka Chapman et al. (2020) developed a model “for African

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American college choice and agency” (p. 12). Previous scholarship has in fact utilized Critical Race Theory to examine college “choice” (Acevedo-Gil 2015; Comeaux et al. 2020; Muhammad 2008; Teranishi and Briscoe 2008). However, the strength of Chapman and colleagues’ framework is that it integrates Critical Race Theory to develop a college “choice” framework that examines institutional and political forms of exclusion that circumscribe the said “choice.” Further, by recognizing the assets and community cultural wealth (Yosso 2005) that Black students hold in the “choice” process, their model challenges deficit frames of Black underachievement.

Research on Black Women and College “Choice” While research on Black women’s college experiences has emerged (Chambers and Sharpe 2012; Commodore et al. 2018; Patton et al. 2016; Patton and Croom 2017; Porter et al. 2020; Winkle-Wagner 2015), there were only 48 publications on Black collegiate women in higher education-related research from 1991 to 2012 (Patton et al. 2016). Within higher education journals, Everett and Croom (2017) surveyed 49 higher education journals and found that within the last 10 years, only 14 articles within 7 journals have publications focused on “Black undergraduate womyn.” The dearth of education research focused on Black collegiate women warrants considering the theoretical implications and practical consequences when there is a vast erasure of a student group. At the minimum, we are obligated to question the breadth of what we think we know about these students and interrogate what is taken for granted. Though literature on college “choice” is extensive, empirical research on Black women’s college “choice” is far less common. Within the scant literature, empirical studies on Black women’s college decisions have focused on the roles of parental influence and schools (Butner et al. 2001; Horvat 1997; Muhammad and Dixson 2008; Muhammad et al. 2008; Smith 2008). Notably, most studies on Black women’s college decision focus on the differences in college enrollment between Black women and Black men (Smith and Fleming 2006). Using the National Longitudinal Study of Youth and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System to examine gender differences in the college-going process, Jez (2012) found that Black women were more likely to come from low-income households, have higher academic achievement, apply to college, have higher expectations to complete college, have parents that are more confident that they will complete college, and discuss their college plans with their parents. To further examine these differences, Jez (2012) controlled for habitus, cultural capital, and social capital by selectivity of institution and found no gender differences. Jez (2012) concluded differences in academic achievement, household characteristics, expectations, peer group influences, parent involvement, and school type do not explain the gap in application and attendance rates between African American females and males (p. 54).

Such statistical analyses may not be able to account for exogenous factors that are not measured in these data sets, including factors found to be salient in other

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qualitative research in Black women’s college-going processes. Put differently, such findings and conclusions can obscure other factors that employing a Black feminist lens in the study of college “choice” can bring to light.

A Historical Perspective on Black Feminism The history of Black exclusion from postsecondary education indicates that higher education institutions are racialized institutions (Ray 2019). This history calls on college “choice” scholarship to address the racialization of college opportunity structures. A Black feminist approach is well-positioned to address this racialization because it illuminates the processes that create conditions of subordination and the unjust effects such processes have on minoritized groups’ lived experiences. A Black feminist perspective underscores the complex confluence of race, gender, class, sexuality, nation of origin, religion, disability, and other social identities and forms of domination that circumscribe life chances. In this section, I will provide a brief explanation and history of Black Feminism, followed by analyzing how concepts in Black Feminist Thought provide conceptual tools to study the racialization of the college “choice” process. I will argue that Black Feminist Thought provides an analytical apparatus to identify and examine “racialization” in college “choice” through concepts such as controlling images. Such controlling images include the common positioning in research and in popular media of Black women as a comparatively advantaged and resilient “model minority,” despite considerable evidence otherwise. I also address how Black Feminist Thought’s concepts of self-definition and self-valuation can serve as a corrective to challenge stereotypes about Black women that influence how they are supported (or not) in their educational advancement and postsecondary pursuits. The application of Black Feminism emphasizes that “if you could free the most oppressed people in society, then you would free everyone” (Taylor 2017, p. 5). Black Feminism is an endeavor that offers a way of knowing (Dillard 2006), being (Collins 2002), and reimagining (Davis 2012) that might be pragmatic and/or radical in that it centers Black perspectives as key to shaping the future. Black feminist ontology and epistemology call for examining history as a perspective to inform how to navigate onward. The genealogy of Black Feminisms ties together Black women’s history of subjugation, invisibility, and empowerment with their contemporary social conditions, experiences, and activism. Though often unnamed, unacknowledged, and “behind the scenes,” Black women were the architects in shaping social movements such as the Civil Rights, Black Nationalism (Blain 2018), and the Black Power and Freedom movements (Farmer 2017; Ransby 2003; Spencer 2016). The lineage of Black women’s crusade for liberation can be traced to their leadership in resistance in slave quarters on plantations (Davis 1972; Hartman 2016). Black women were not mere bystanders of the process of their dehumanization but actively challenged their oppressions, in that they participated in slave rebellions and uprisings, or resisted enslavement through various forms, including death (Davis 1972). For the current chapter, I situate Black Feminism in the historicity of Black women’s

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development and engagement with antiracist and antisexist discourses and their involvement in social movements and social justice projects, which are inextricably intertwined (e.g., Collins 2019a). Among the concepts in Black Feminism, that of intersectionality may be more familiar to a wider audience, because of its “travels” to various disciplines, including the field of higher education (Harris and Patton 2019). The concept of intersectionality foundationally reflects a larger Black feminist intellectual and activist tradition (Collins 2019a; Cooper 2016; Hancock 2016; Nash 2019). Common accounts denote the 1960s and 1970s as when the concept of intersectionality was initially developed (e.g., Harris and Patton 2019). However, before critical legal scholar and Black feminist Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term that emerged in academic and legal discourse as intersectionality in the late 1980s (Collins 2019a), Black women were describing and documenting how the intersection of race, gender, class, and sexuality shaped their treatment in US society. In 1861, Harriet Ann Jacobs introduced the enslaved Black woman as the subject while exposing the ills of American slavery in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Early narratives and writings of scholars and activists like Sojourner Truth, Maria Stewart, Anna Julia Cooper, Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell, Frances Beal, and Angela Davis also addressed the structural oppression of Black women based on race and gender (see Hancock 2016, for an account of the evolution of Black feminist theory and intersectionality since the 1800s). In 1974, the Combahee River Collective, a collective of Black lesbian feminists, called for the “development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking” (Hull et al. 1982, p. 13). In framing this activity as Black feminist theorizing, Cooper (2016) states this body of proto-intersectionality theorizing advanced the idea that systems of oppressionnamely, racism, classim, sexism, and heterosexism-worked together to create a set of social conditions under which black women and other women of color lived and labored, always in kind of invisible but ever-present social jeopardy (p. 5),

As evidenced in the teachings and praxis of Black feminists, intersectionality is a social justice project that is invested in a political struggle against multiple systems of oppression that constrained those with marginalized identities’ life chances (Collins 2019b). This chapter considers how the application of Black Feminist Thought can be expanded beyond the concept of intersectionality to examine equity in higher education.

Black Feminist Thought Black Feminism includes intellectual lines of inquiry that incorporate diverse disciplinary origins, political connotations, and purposes. Specifically, Black Feminism encompasses Black Feminist Thought (Collins 2002), Critical Race Feminism (Wing 1997), intersectionality (Crenshaw 1991), and womanism (Walker 2004).

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As such, Black Feminist Thought is an “arm of Black Feminism” (Collins 2019a) and is applied here to theorize college-going pathways. As outlined by Collins (1986, 2002), there is not one prescriptive method on how to apply Black Feminism, but Black Feminism approaches center antiracist and antisexist research and activism (Evans-Winters 2019; Guy-Sheftall 1995). Black Feminist Thought is a critical social theory that “encompasses bodies of knowledge and sets of institutional practices that actively grapple with the central questions facing U.S. Black women as a collectivity” (Collins 2002, p. 9). Put differently, Black Feminist Thought is the “ideas produced by Black women that clarify a standpoint of and for Black women (Collins 1986, p. S16). As a theory and methodological process, Black Feminist Thought is a framework to analyze race, class, gender, and sexuality within a system of power and oppression. Black Feminist Thought relies on Black women’s standpoints to analyze the construction of structural, disciplinary, hegemonic, and interpersonal domains of power that hinder life opportunities for Black women. It postulates that analyzing these constructions can also lead to transformation and undoing of oppressive structures. As a theoretical approach, Black Feminist Thought has the potential to advance the field of higher education and student affairs. Scholars have applied Black Feminism to examine the experiences of undergraduate and doctoral students, faculty and administrators, and education leadership. In arguing that Black Feminist Thought and Critical Race Theory can be applied to enhance theories of student development and socialization, Howard-Hamilton (2003) contends that “the use of a single lens or perspective, even one including a “melting pot” view of diversity, cannot help all students, particularly African American women, to feel secure about immersing themselves in the university environment” (p. 20). Following HowardHamilton’s perspective that Black Feminist Thought can enrich the field of higher education, I apply it to the study of college “choice.” For this theoretical contribution, I apply three concepts of Black Feminist Thought: (1) self-definition and self-valuation, (2) the interlocking nature of oppression, and (3) the importance of Black women’s culture to make sense of the factors that constrain Black girl’s and women’s college “choice.” In relation to these themes, I first discuss the importance of the Black Feminist concept of controlling images that necessitate self-definition and self-valuation as interventions to affirm the agency of Black women and girls to draw on their cultural strengths to navigate college and life pathways, expanding their capacity to reach their highest potential. In the following section, I begin by describing what controlling images are to interrogate how various stereotypes about Black women and girls influence institutional behaviors that shape college “choice.”

Controlling Images Black feminist critics contend that controlling images are mechanisms to control, dehumanize, and exploit Black women and Black womanhood (Collins 2002). Defined as external, socially constructed stereotypes, controlling images are used to objectify Black women and justify discriminatory practices. As such, controlling images “make racism, sexism, poverty, and other forms of social injustice appear to

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be natural, normal, and inevitable parts of everyday life” (Collins 2002, p. 69). Taken for granted, the stereotypes of Black women and girls are hegemonic, ideological symbols that shape individual consciousness, relationships with others, and societal values. Though often examined in public policy, cinema, and media (Bogle 2002; Hancock 2004; Wallace-Sanders 2008), I apply the concept of controlling images to understand Black women’s educational experiences that are relevant to college “choice.” Historical and contemporary controlling images of Black women include the mammy, the matriarch, the sapphire, and the Black lady. The mammy is a stereotype of jolly Black mothers that sacrifice their family and self (Wallace-Sanders 2008). The mammy “symbolizes the dominant group’s perceptions of the ideal Black female relationship to elite white male power” because she knows and accepts her subordinate position (Collins 2002, p. 72). Within the context of the exploitation of Black women’s labor, the mammy as a controlling image depicts Black women as aggressive, independent, asexual, and overly devoted to their work (Collins 2002). Within the white gaze, the working status and position of the Black matriarch within familial households emasculates Black men, and Black women’s work commitments are also perverted to suggest how they are unable to properly care for their children and their educational needs (Collins 2002). Originating in pioneer Black sociologist Edward Franklin Frazier’s (1939) book The Negro Family in the United States, the concept of the Black matriarch or “matriarchate” was invoked to describe Black women’s survival response to subordination under racism and capitalism. As pointed out by scholars, however, Frazier’s lack of specificity in defining this concept left it open to deficit interpretations and applications (Allen 1995; Collins 2002), as evidenced in Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s (1965) study, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, commonly referred to as the Moynihan Report. The Moynihan Report popularized an ideology that Black women who failed to fulfill their traditional “womanly” duties at home contributed to social problems in Black civil society (Collins 2002, p. 75). Through the pervasiveness and durability of the controlling image of the Black matriarch, “black women became scapegoats, responsible for the psychological emasculation of black men and for the failure of the black community to gain parity with the white community” (Dill 1979, p. 548). In the higher education setting, Jacqueline Fleming (1983) found that Black undergraduate women on predominantly white campuses developed confident and assertive traits that could be associated with the Black matriarch controlling image. In her interpretation, having to navigate and negotiate white supremacy and patriarchy in historically white institutions required Black women to develop confidence and assertiveness. A contemporary version of a controlling image that bridges the mammy and matriarch is the Black lady. Black ladies are assertive Black women that “stayed in school, worked hard, and have achieved much” and who have become “middle-class professional Black women who represent a modern version of the politics of respectability advanced by the club women” (Collins 2002, pp. 80–81). Similar to how Collins (2002) demonstrates how the depictions of “welfare queen” and “Black lady” work together to construct classed images of Black women, their femininity,

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and work, the construction of Black girls as either “loudies and ladies” (Morris 2007), “good and ghetto” (Jones 2010), and/or ratchet girls are controlling images that stigmatize and limit educational opportunity (Morris 2016; Watson 2016). Previous scholarship has also drawn connections between these deviant characterizations of Black girls and the controlling image of the sapphire. The sapphire is described as “emasculating, loud, aggressive, angry, stubborn, and unfeminine” (Epstein et al. 2017, 5). There is evidence to indicate that controlling images of Black women adversely shape Black women and girls’ educational experiences in the United States (EvansWinters and Esposito 2010). In the schoolyard and in the classroom, Black girls are often rendered as ghetto, “a euphemism for actions that deviate from social norms tied to a narrow, white middle-class definition of femininity” (Morris 2016, p. 10). Sociologist Nikki Jones (2010) argues that the construction of ghetto Black girls is juxtaposed to a Black respectability politics that instructs and deems what is acceptable behavior, and Black women following this respectability politics “distance themselves from behavioral displays of physical aggression or overt sexuality” (Jones 2010, p. 8). Black respectability politics may impose expectations to conform to certain standards of behavior, including those of white femininity, but Black girls, especially those who live in neighborhoods with pervasive structural and interpersonal violence, encounter myriad challenges to survive and defend themselves (Jones 2010). Such conditions of economic deprival and exploitation, gendered racism, segregation, and gentrification necessitate resistive responses for protection and survival. Locating “ghetto girls” outside the caricature of being a “Black lady” or a “good girl” pervades school officials’ perceptions about Black girls and how they should behave. In schools, the image of Black girls as ghetto is read as nonconformity, and there is evidence that it can be utilized to exercise what has been well documented as excessive discipline of Black girls in the K-12 system (e.g., Morris 2016). Moreover, Black girls tend to be viewed as loud and abrasive when they are assertive in the K-12 classroom (Fordham 1993; Morris 2007). Howard-Hamilton (2003) contends that the application of stereotypes of Black women in higher education to educational practices can infringe on Black women’s educational and career opportunities. As a remnant of historical caricatures of Black women and their roles in the community and wider society, including the trope of the Black matriarch, Black women have come to be portrayed as advantaged in comparison to Black men, a framing that, as described below, encompasses terms like “resilience” and “model minority.” Here Black girls and women are commonly framed as being “resilient,” while Black boys and men are perpetually in a “crisis” (Neal-Jackson 2018) or “endangered” (Butler 2013) state. In a related vein, Black women have come to be viewed as a “model minority” within their race (discussed in more detail below), and this phenomenon adversely affects resources for Black women’s education. Interventions for Black boys and adolescents have become well-funded to address their needs (Dumas and Nelson 2016), for example, the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which aimed “to improve measurably the expected educational and life outcomes for

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and address the persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color” (Office of the Press Secretary, White House 2014), has received at least $200 million in funding (Neal-Jackson 2018). By contrast, although significant evidence indicates that Black women face unique and comparative challenges to Black men, the investment in the similar initiatives to serve Black women and girls and women is estimated to be less than 1 million dollars (Cooper 2014; Neal-Jackson 2018). Disparate resources afforded to Black men and women’s educational advancement initiatives circumscribe Black women’s college “choice.” In association with the resilient controlling image, the model minority controlling image has also been applied to Black women. The model minority image is a stereotypical image of high achievement and success that functions as a tool in “discrediting one racially minoritized group’s real struggles with racial barriers and discrimination through the valorization of oversimplified stereotypes of another racially minoritized group” (Poon et al. 2016, p. 474). Usually applied to Asian Americans in the media and popular discourse, the model minority myth has been critiqued by scholars (Chang 2011; Museus and Kiang 2009) because it is an “insidious racial device used to uphold a global system of racial hierarchies and white supremacy” (Poon et al. 2016, p. 474). More recently, the model minority controlling image has been applied to Black women in understanding their educational experiences and outcomes. For example, Kaba (2008) states the model minority concept could now be extended to include Black American women, because even more than Asian Americans, they have been the subgroup to have suffered the most in the history of not only the USA, but the entire Western Hemisphere or the New World. However, by the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, Black American women are among the most productive members of the American society (p.331).

Headlines of popular news media have crowned Black women as the “most educated group” in the United States, although, as indicated earlier, the evidence distorts the realities of Black women’s educational attainment (Bronner Helm 2016; Davis 2016). For example, across all racial groups (not just among Black folks), women are more likely to be enrolled in college compared to their male counterparts (NCES 2019b), yet, as discussed earlier, there is an emphasis in research and policy on this enrollment gap among Black students in particular. Further, analyses of Black women’s college enrollment patterns reveal that they disproportionately attend for-profit institutions in comparison to other groups, a pattern that can adversely affect their educational attainment and college debt (Davis et al. 2020; Espinosa et al. 2019). Moreover, Black women’s 6-year graduation rates from 4-year institutions are among the lowest of all racial groups, with the exception of those of Indigenous students (NCES 2019f). Further, the research on Black women’s and girls’ experiences in the United States carceral state disrupts the dominant narrative that Black girls are shielded from gendered racism and state-sanctioned and education violence (Wun 2016, 2018). In reference to the murder of Tamir Rice, Morris (2016) provides a particularly vivid portrayal of how Black girls are adversely affected by police violence:

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Even in high-profile cases involving boys, we often fail to see the girls who were right there alongside them...officers tackled his fourteen-year-old sister to the ground and handcuffed her. Not only had she just watched her little brother die at the hands of these officers, but she was forced to grieve his death from the backseat of a police car (p. 2).

Assertions that Black women, or any racially minoritized group, are an exemplar for other disenfranchised groups to emulate obscure how white supremacy, including that related to state sanctioned violence, impacts the everyday lives and opportunities of minoritized groups. The argument of a “new model minority” inflicts harm to Black women and men because it implies that accountability for societal equity rests on the individual and/or status group to overcome institutional barriers, instead of interrogating how systems of oppression impede on the potential for equitable livelihoods across race and gender. As noted earlier, critics have pointed out that “the failure to account for racism/ white supremacy gender/patriarchy when considering Black collegiate women’s experiences is nonsensical at least and absurd at best” (Patton and Croom 2017, p. 2). While the rhetoric of a “new model minority” may be absurd, given the evidence cited earlier, its implications nonetheless extend into empirical research as well as popular media. For example, Black men are currently the most researched racial group in education studies (Harper and Newman 2016). Such research is warranted and definitely needed. Yet, too often the rationale for research with Black men and boys centers comparing their plights to Black women and girls’ educational attainment and perceived academic success. As noted before, the constant portrayal of Black men and boys in crisis dominates social science literature and influences or reinforces the proliferation of outreach, policies, and initiatives that almost exclusively focus on enriching the education and life opportunities for Black (and Latinx) men (Butler 2013; Dumas and Nelson 2016), while initiatives to support Black women are hardly resourced at all in comparison. The advantaged Black woman trope, as a descendant of the Black matriarch controlling image, reflects the accumulation of persistent trends to pathologize Black woman and to misinterpret statistical data on educational attainment, including data related to college access and “choice.” The failure to see Black women and girls beyond hyperbolic caricatures of educational success results in inadequate approaches to address expanding Black women’s college access and cultivate enriching experiences that support their aspirations to reach their highest potential, thus compromising Black women’s potential for college “choice.” In examining the historical and ideological underpinnings of the educational advantage of Black women, we can identify the limitations of incomplete portrayals and move toward a research agenda that reframes Black women and girls worthy of an education and a life that does not necessitate taxing endurance and resilience against adversity. Further, organizing policy and programmatic approaches to address Black girl’s and women’s unique needs can expand their potential to pursue a wider range of postsecondary possibilities and to expand their college “choice” options.

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Interlocking Nature of Oppression Evidence about the consequences of the prevalence and enactment of these controlling images of Black women and girls indicates how these stereotypes perpetuate interlocking racialized, gendered, and class systems that can channel Black girls’ and women’s opportunities into narrower confines of college “choice.” For instance, studies have found how school officials and educator’s negative perceptions of Black girls are biased in that they reflect the personnel’s preconceived notions about students, and yet penalize students and disrupt their educational pursuits (Crenshaw et al. 2015a; Morris 2016). From this perspective, controlling images of Black girls in the K-12 education can influence how institutional agents and teachers in schools treat these girls. In essence, this treatment embodies the enactment of interlocking systems of power in schools which can affect whether these girls are pushed out of the education system, pursue higher education, seek vocational training, in the criminal legal system, or follow other alternative life paths. One critical case where interlocking systems of power is exercised involves the disproportionate disciplinary rates of Black girls by school officials and administrators (e.g., Morris 2016). Morris and Perry (2017) have found that disciplinary action imposed on Black girls is typically conducted through office referrals, and that Black girls are often cited for dress code violations, disruptive behavior, and disobedience, which are offenses that open to officials’ interpretation and susceptible to ambiguity, subjectiveness, and implicit bias. In their analysis of disciplinary data of Denver Public Schools, Annamma et al. (2019) found that Black girls were suspended at rates higher than other girls, than white and Latino boys, and more than the school district average. These researchers concluded that excessive discipline and policing practices are exercised through filters of controlling images and dominant narratives about Black women and girls (Annamma et al. 2019). The punitive inequalities experienced by Black girls are perpetuated by the dominant discourses about Black girlhood and Blackness. Black girls often challenge hegemonic notions of docile femininity (Morris 2007), and behaving outside of white norms of feminity (e.g., Collins 2002; Fleming 1983) can lead school officials to render Black girls outside of femininity itself. In such cases, “Blackness compromises and modifies perceptions of appropriate femininity, which is coded as white” (Morris and Perry 2017, p. 144). Interlocking with racism and sexism, other systems of power including classism, heterosexism, able-bodiedness and colorism preclude Black girls from confirming with narrow cis-white narratives of girlhood that are privileged in schooling. For example, Morris (2016) found that a gender nonconforming Black youth was characterized as a “distraction” and “disruptive” by their teachers, a characterization which led to excessive disciplinary measures against the student. Such policing reflects a desire to surveillance and punish Blackness and othered genders. And even more so, excessive and inappropriate policing deprives Black girls of experiencing a full childhood (Morris 2016). Historical analyses and current research indicate that over time, in contrast to their non-Black peers, Black girls have often not been perceived as children, but rather, as adults. Adultification is a term that “comprises contextual, social, and developmental processes in which you are prematurely, and often inappropriately, exposed to adult

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knowledge and assume extensive adult roles and responsibilities within their family networks” (Burton 2007, p. 329). For Black children, adultification has historical lineages to the institution of slavery. For example, enslaved Black children were expected to work and live under the same repressive conditions as enslaved Black adults and elders (Dumas and Nelson 2016). Further, enslaved Black children were often separated from their families and auctioned to different plantations as a method to control and alienate the Black child. The Black child was systematically denied a “childhood.” Reflecting and mirroring the horrors of the past, there continues to be systemic cultural prejudice that becomes operationalized in social policy and everyday institutional practices. But more than prejudice, Black children are subject to a process of dehumanization. While prejudice signifies negative attitudes that can lead to discrimination, dehumanization involves something far more dangerous: a construction of the Other as not human, as less than human, and therefore undeserving of the emotional and moral recognition accorded to those whose share humanity is understood. (Dumas and Nelson 2016, p. 29)

In a report, Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood, researchers conducted a community survey to elicit data on perceptions about children’s innocence and adultification. Among 325 adults, with 74% of participants being white, the survey data indicated that Black girls are viewed by adults as knowing more about sex and adult topics than other girls (Epstein et al. 2017). They are also perceived as having independent personality characteristics, a perspective associated with school officials’ views that Black girls need less support and protection to navigate school. Taken together, the educational violence that Black girls endure in school contribute to a “spirit murdering,” which is “the denial of inclusion, protection, safety, nurturance, and acceptance because of fixed, yet fluid and moldable, structures of racism” (Love 2016, p. 2). The intersection of systems of oppression adversely impacts college-going pathways and decision-making as revealed in Black women’s educational experiences: “The criminalization of Black girls is much more than a street phenomenon. It has extended into our schools, disrupting one of the most important protective factors in a girl’s life: her education” (Morris 2016, p. 3). The unfair disciplinary practices that target Black girls restrict their educational opportunities. As contended by Annamma et al. 2019, “channeling Black girls out of schools and into carceral institutions, schools are protecting education for the most privileged...education is a property right instilled by Whiteness, with the absolute right to exclude those outside of Whiteness” (p. 217). The school-to-prison nexus indicates how disciplinary practices and punishment within schools can lead to educational pushout and incarceration. The sanctioning of students via suspension, expulsion, or grade retention is the strongest predictor of incarceration among adolescent girls (Annamma et al. 2019; Wald and Losen 2003). Previous college “choice” studies have found repeating a grade (often necessitated with incarceration) is associated with being pushed out of high school and not pursuing college. Further, incarceration can have a lasting impact on an individual’s college and career aspirations. For example, incarceration and/or one’s conviction can be used to deny college admissions (Annamma 2018) and to restrict or deny financial aid eligibility for federal and many state programs

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(Custer and Akaeze 2019). This is important, given that the provision of financial aid has been shown to influence decisions for low-income, Black students and the growing population of formerly incarcerated students and students in prisons (Castro and Zamani-Gallaher 2018). Moreover, the excessive exercise of school discipline interrupts academic and college preparation. Even when punishment does not necessarily involve law enforcement, detention in school detracts from students’ educational time to pursue required academic coursework for college. This is especially concerning given research that has shown academic and college preparation is the strongest predictor of college enrollment (e.g., Cabrera and La Nasa 2000). Excessive discipline also informs the biases of teachers and counselors on the extent to which certain students are provided college knowledge and who receives alternative options, if any at all. Muhammad and Dixson (2008), addressing the well-documented fact that Black girls are overrepresented in vocational tracks, questioned whether this condition is due to a “. . .concerted effort on the part of these students to get ahead in the workforce...or whether these women, who are most likely ‘average’ students, are being pushed out of the general curricular track on to tracks where more success for people ‘like them’ is perceived” (p. 171). In sum, academic and disciplinary trends regarding Black girls in K-12 schooling can shape the extent to which these girls have full agency in college “choice.”

Black Women’s Culture, Self-definition, and Self-valuation Black women’s culture refers to “the ideological frame of reference – namely, the symbols and values of self-definition and self-valuation – that assist Black women in seeing the circumstances shaping race, class, and gender oppression” (Collins 1986, S22). With the contention that Black girls’ socialization and identity development is racialized and gendered, consideration on how students come to know who they are, their social positions, and how to navigate their social worlds is imperative. Research has expanded to apply an intersectional lens to examine the identity development and socialization of Black women and girls (Mims and Williams 2020; Porter 2017; Porter et al. 2020). Lauren Mims and Joanna Williams (2020) applied the multiple worlds model (Phelan et al. 1991) to examine how families, peer groups, classrooms, and schools shape what and how Black girls learn about race and racism. The authors approached the study with the assumption that Black girls navigate different worlds that may or may not be congruent with each other (i.e., homelife and school). Examining identity development within the context of systems of oppressions, the authors found Black adolescent girls’ understandings of race were based on their social interactions that predominantly occurred within schools. The prevalence of dehumanized portrayals of Black women in the curriculum and experiences of being ridiculed by peers because of those of images influenced students’ understandings of race and their own racial identity development. Mims and Williams (2020) concluded that “Black girls’ discussions of what being their own race meant to them indicated that they were connecting race with social processes related to bias and discrimination” (p. 118).

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The interplay between oppression, consciousness, and activism that is so salient to Black women’s lives and ways of knowing (Collins 1986) could also be salient to their college “choice.” Collins (1986) argues that Black women’s culture suggests that the relationship between oppressed people’s consciousness of oppression and the actions they take in dealing with oppressive structures may be far more complex than that suggested by existing social theory. Conventional social science continues to assume a fit between consciousness and activity; hence, accurate measures of human behavior are thought to produce accurate portraits of human consciousness of self and social structure (p. S23).

Because Black women and girls are not monolith, their college decisions and the processes that shape those decisions may vary. Such processes may be attributed to the various ways that students exercise their agency as they navigate their social worlds. Considering Black women’s potential to enact the agency in their educational pathways, the appeal of advancing a new positive trope in place of limiting and controlling images to apply to their educational experiences is captivating. However, Collins (1986) asserts that “replacing negative stereotypes with ostensibly positive ones can be equally problematic if the function of stereotypes as controlling images remains unrecognized” (p. S17). To truly expand Black women’s college “choice” possibilities, it is critical to develop research and praxis perspectives and approaches that fully and authentically honor their humanity and well-being. Accordingly, the Black feminist concepts of self-definition and self-valuation are of particular relevance to understanding the capacity to broaden Black women’s educational opportunities. Self-definition refers to affirming Black women’s lived experiences as fully human (Collins 1986). Self-valuation “stresses the content of Black women’s self-definition – namely, replacing externally-derived images with authentic Black female images” (Collins 1986, p. S17). This concept centers on Black women as subjects – persons who are shaped and shaping their social context and the lives they live on their own terms. As noted, in her education research on the experiences of Black collegiate women, Fleming (1983) challenged the Black matriarch controlling image, asserting that the persistence of this stereotype resulted from biased research that implicitly or explicitly compared the experiences of Black women to those of white women with respect to work and labor: Perhaps the real truth is not that black women are stronger or more dominant than black men, but rather that they are less passive and dependent less “feminine,” in terms of white stereotypes than white women. (p. 43)

Her findings suggest the importance of understanding Black women’s postsecondary experiences on their own terms – rather than in relationship to an inappropriate and unrealistic (and in this case majoritarian) standard. Thus, Fleming’s (1983) findings confirmed the necessity of self-definition and self-valuation in examining women’s experiences in domains such as higher education (Collins 1986, 2002).

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One recent example of self-valuation and self-definition can be found in a recent scholarly, praxis-oriented, and activist response to the pervasiveness of inaccurate narratives around how the carceral state affects Black women and girls. The African American Policy Forum founded by Kimberlé Crenshaw and Luke Charles Harris have developed initiatives (i.e., #WhyWeCantWait) and campaigns (i.e., #SayHerName) to address the status of Black women in education and their suffering at the hands of state violence (Crenshaw et al. 2015b). This includes combatting the invisibility of Black women in My Brother’s Keeper and public discourses surrounding the Movement for Black Lives (Black Lives Matter) (which contradict controlling images of Black women as advantaged). Their report, Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected analyzed how school discipline impacts Black girls and has deepened the knowledge on the prison-to-school nexus (Crenshaw et al. 2015a). This form of knowledge production is linked to praxis that works to dismantle oppressive power relations and transform public policy and discourse. In the context of Black women and girls’ college “choice,” self-definition and self-valuation challenge narrow orientations that reinforce intersection systems of oppression that subordinate Black women and girls in education and society. As the evidence discussed in this review indicates, controlling images and tropes like “ladies and loudies” (Morris 2007) or “good and ghetto” (Jones 2010), and the associated surveillance and over policing of Black girls forecloses the capacity to obtain a full range of educational options in K-12 schooling, with significant consequences in constraining college “choice.” Conversely, when Black girls are inappropriately perceived as being advantaged, their specific challenges become invisible, and opportunities are missed on how to fully address the challenges they may be encountering. A Black feminist perspective and associated concepts can be applied to inquiry about college “choice” about populations beyond Black women and girls. Engaging with questions such as the following can expand considerations of how power structures enhance or constrain students’ postsecondary options: (1) What controlling images and stereotypes affect a population’s access to collegegoing resources? How do practices related to these controlling images expand or constrain such resources? For example, how does the model minority myth regarding Asian Americans affect the support offered by teachers and school personnel to Hmong students and other Asian American ethnic subgroups with far lower than average college-going rates? (e.g., Museus et al. 2016). (2) What interlocking systems of power affect a population’s capacity to pursue a full range of college options? For example, how do systems such as racism, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and nativism constrain or enhance postsecondary options for Afro-Latinx students who might be considering attending HBCUs, where they might encounter distinctive kinds of microaggressions? (Palmer and Maramba 2015). (3) How do members of minoritized communities draw on their cultural resources such as college conocimiento in the case of Latinx students (Acevedo-Gil 2017) to challenge and navigate interlocking and oppressive power structures that constrain college “choice”?

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(4) How do self-definition and self-valuation based on a student’s cultural background affect college “choice”? For example, how does an emphasis on “giving back” to one’s community, as evidenced in U.S. Native and indigenous communities (e.g, Reyes 2019), influence where, how, and for what purpose members of these communities pursue postsecondary education? As evidenced in this review, such applications of Black Feminist Theory show great potential to help scholars, policymakers, practitioners, and activists specify dimensions of economic, political, and social power structures that can serve as sites for interventions to expand college “choice” for minoritized groups and to identify and develop institutional processes that foster greater equity in college opportunity.

Conclusion: New Imaginings and Possibilities Looking to advance college “choice” research, policy and practice, Bergerson (2009) called for increased attention to the specific experiences of groups with different social identities as they move through the college choice process. . .[and] solutions for the stratification of higher education in educational systems, social contexts, and policies...enhancing the ability to identify and address the barriers (p. 113).

This review extends college “choice” research on the connection between racial identity and college pathways to invite examining Black and minoritized students’ college “choice” in ways that situate college decisions within structural systems of power and oppression. Examining whether and to what extent students account for forms of domination like racism, patriarchy, classism, heteronormativity, and nativism when making a college “choice” can expand the understanding of how students construct a “consideration set” (McDonough 1997) of college options. Simultaneously, such an examination can also illuminate how these systems of power contribute to constructing – and often limiting – that set of college options. Like other critical social theories that focus on the role of institutional and societal power in affecting life chances, Black Feminist Thought provides analytical tools to examine the oppression of minoritized students and to draw on the resulting knowledge to develop equitable pathways into higher education for all students, particularly Black women and girls. Black Feminist Thought provides a lens to examine power relations and the intersection of systems of oppression as forces that have shaped and continues to shape the higher education and who has access to college participation. Realizing equity in educational and life opportunities requires transformative change in which systems that infringe upon minoritized groups are dismantled and abolished. Collins (2002) argued that “. . . becoming empowered requires more than changing the consciousness of individual Black women via Black community development strategies. Empowerment also requires transforming unjust social

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institutions that African-Americans encounter from one generation to the next” (p. 273). Her concept of the matrix of domination illuminates how societal power structures work in tandem to circumscribe college pathways and “choice.” Collins’s (2002) concept of matrix of domination recognizes a full range of individual, cultural, and structural factors intertwined with interlocking systems of power shown to affect Black students’ college “choice” in this chapter’s review. Future studies can employ Black Feminist Thought and other critical lenses to examine how racialized and gendered violence, homelessness, and criminalization contribute to limiting postsecondary opportunity structures for minoritized students (Edwards 2020; Huerta et al. 2020). As of 2020, the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has raised significant uncertainty about how higher education will serve students with diverse backgrounds. Further, the consequences of the pandemic could exacerbate the already widespread economic, social, political, and educational inequality. Simultaneously, through worldwide protests, Black folks and others are challenging how global antiBlack racism, racial capitalism, and white supremacy have asymmetrically distributed life opportunities toward historically advantaged groups. It is a pivotal time for higher education scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to redress the various ways postsecondary inequities have been maintained through the construction and maintenance of racist, gendered, capitalist, nativist, and associated power structures. Rapid responses to the pandemic’s consequences in higher education that have necessitated quick shifts to online learning in 2020, or to some universities waiving their typical SAT and ACT testing college admissions requirements, ought to illustrate that historically resisted innovations can be implemented quickly, when the political will is there. Such lessons can be applied to future innovations to expand equity in higher education.

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Turley, R. N. L. (2009). College proximity: Mapping access to opportunity. Sociology of Education, 82(2), 126–146. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019a). Total fall enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by attendance status, sex of student, and control of institution: Selected years, 1947 through 2029 Biennial Survey of Education in the United States; Opening Fall Enrollment in Higher Education, 1963 through 1965; Higher Education General Information Survey (HEGIS), “Fall Enrollment in Colleges and Universities” surveys, 1966 through 1985; Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), “Fall Enrollment Survey” (IPEDS-EF:86-99); IPEDS Spring 2001 through Spring 2019, Fall Enrollment component; and Enrollment in Degree-Granting Institutions Projection Model, 2000 through 2029. (This table was prepared December 2019.) https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/ d19/tables/dt19_303.10.asp?current¼yes. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019b). Total fall enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by level of enrollment, sex, attendance status, and race/ethnicity or nonresident alien status of student: Selected years, 1976 through 2018 Higher Education General Information Survey (HEGIS), “Fall Enrollment in Colleges and Universities” surveys, 1976 and 1980; Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), “Fall Enrollment Survey” (IPEDS-EF:90); and IPEDS Spring 2001 through Spring 2019, Fall Enrollment component. (This table was prepared September 2019.) https://nces.ed. gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_306.10.asp?current¼yes. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019c). Fall enrollment, degrees conferred, and expenditures in degree-granting historically Black colleges and universities, by institution: 2017, 2018, and 2017–18 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Fall 2018, Completions component; Spring 2018 and Spring 2019, Fall Enrollment component; and Spring 2019, Finance component. (This table was prepared November 2019.) https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_313.10.asp?current¼yes. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019d). Fall enrollment in degree-granting historically Black colleges and universities, by sex of student and level and control of institution: Selected years, 1976 through 2018 Higher Education General Information Survey (HEGIS), “Fall Enrollment in Colleges and Universities,” 1976 through 1985 surveys; Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), “Fall Enrollment Survey” (IPEDSEF:86-99); and IPEDS Spring 2001 through Spring 2019, Fall Enrollment component. (This table was prepared November 2019.) https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_313.20.asp. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019e). Selected statistics on degree-granting historically Black colleges and universities, by control and level of institution: Selected years, 1990 through 2018 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), “Fall Enrollment Survey” (IPEDS-EF:90); IPEDS Spring 2001, Spring 2011, and Spring 2019, Fall Enrollment component; IPEDS Spring 2019, Finance component; and IPEDS Fall 2018, Completions component. (This table was prepared November 2019.) https://nces.ed. gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_313.30.asp?current¼yes. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019f). Bachelor’s degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity and sex of student: Selected years, 1976–77 through 2017–18 Higher Education General Information Survey (HEGIS), “Degrees and Other Formal Awards Conferred” surveys, 1976–77 and 1980–81; Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), “Completions Survey” (IPEDS-C:90-99); and IPEDS Fall 2000 through Fall 2018, Completions component. (This table was prepared October 2019.) https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_322.20.asp?current¼yes. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019g). Percentage distribution of first-time, full-time bachelor’s degree-seeking students at 4-year postsecondary institutions 6 years after entry, by completion and enrollment status at first institution attended, sex, race/ethnicity, control of institution, and percentage of applications accepted: Cohort entry years 2007 and 2012 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Winter 2013–14 and Winter 2018–19 Graduation Rates component; and IPEDS Fall 2007 and Fall 2012, Institutional Characteristics component. (This table was prepared October 2019.) https://nces. ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_326.15.asp?current¼yes.

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Van Camp, D., Barden, J., Sloan, L., & Clarke, R. (2009). Choosing an HBCU: An opportunity to pursue racial self-development. Journal of Diversity in Negro Education, 78(4), 457–468. Van Camp, D., Barden, J., & Sloan, L. R. (2010). Predictors of black students’ race-related reasons for choosing an HBCU and intentions to engage in racial identity-relevant behaviors. Journal of Black Psychology, 36(2), 226–250. Waite, C. L. (2002). Permission to remain among us: Education for blacks in Oberlin, Ohio, 1880– 1914. Greenwood Publishing Group. Wald, J., & Losen, D. J. (2003). Defining and redirecting a school-to-prison pipeline. New Directions for Youth Development, 2003(99), 9–15. Walker, A. (2004). In search of our mothers’ gardens: Womanist prose. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Wallace, M. (2015). Black macho and the myth of the superwoman. Verso Books. Wallace-Sanders, K. (2008). Mammy: A century of race, gender, and southern memory. University of Michigan Press. Watson, T. N. (2016). “Talking back”: The perceptions and experiences of black girls who attend City High School. The Journal of Negro Education, 85(3), 239–249. Wells, R. S., & Lynch, C. M. (2012). Delayed college entry and the socioeconomic gap: Examining the roles of student plans, family income, parental education, and parental occupation. The Journal of Higher Education, 83(5), 671–697. Wilder, C. S. (2013). Ebony and ivy: Race, slavery, and the troubled history of Americas. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. Williams, J. L., & Palmer, R. T. (2019). A response to racism: How HBCU enrollment grew in the face of hatred. https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/98987. Williams, K. L., Burt, B. A., Clay, K. L., & Bridges, B. K. (2019). Stories untold: Counternarratives to anti-Blackness and deficit-oriented discourse concerning HBCUs. American Educational Research Journal, 56(2), 556–599. Wing, A. K. (Ed.). (1997). Critical race feminism: A reader. New York University Press. Winkle-Wagner, R. (2015). Having their lives narrowed down? The state of Black women’s college success. Review of Educational Research, 85(2), 171–204. Wun, C. (2016). Unaccounted foundations: Black girls, anti-Black racism, and punishment in schools. Critical Sociology, 42(4/5), 737–750. Wun, C. (2018). Angered: Black and non-Black girls of color at the intersections of violence and school discipline in the United States. Race Ethnicity and Education, 21(4), 423–437. Yosso, T. J. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 69–91. Yosso, T. J., Parker, L., Solórzano, D. G., & Lynn, M. (2004). From Jim Crow to affirmative action and back again: A critical race discussion of racialized rationales and access to higher education. Review of Research in Education, 28(1), 1–25. Zinshteyn, M. (2016). The colleges are watching. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/educa tion/archive/2016/11/the-colleges-are-watching/506129/.

Channel McLewis is an Assistant Project Scientist in Higher Education and Organizational Change at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research investigates Black participation in higher education, with an emphasis on the sociology of race, gender, and inequities in accessing postsecondary options. Specifically, McLewis examines how Black women, as they navigate the higher education terrain, experience intersecting systems of power and how they negotiate their multifaceted identities.

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Queer and Trans College Student Success A Comprehensive Review and Call to Action Jason C. Garvey and C. V. Dolan

Contents Queer and Trans College Student Success: A Comprehensive Review and Call to Action . . . Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Framing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Epistemology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jay’s Positionality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dolan’s Positionality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Identity Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Student Development Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Outness and Identity Disclosure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Queerphobia and Transphobia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Normativity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Finances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conceptual Model of Student Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Free Application for Federal Student Aid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . College Choice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Relationships and Spaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Multicontextual Model for Diverse Learning Environments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Belonging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Spaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Institutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Transformational Tapestry Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . National Inventories of QT Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Institutional Policies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Institutional Contexts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Minority Stress Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nondiscrimination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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J. C. Garvey (*) · C. V. Dolan University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA e-mail: [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 L. W. Perna (ed.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research 36, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-44007-7_2

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Violence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sexual Stigma . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Implications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Institutional Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Data Collection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Data Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Policy and Legislation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Using Frameworks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to explore queer and trans (QT) student success. We center our own positionalities and utilize intersectionality and queer theory as epistemologies to frame our explorations. The core focus of our manuscript is rooted in undergraduate student experiences with goals of illuminating how various overlapping contexts are uniquely experienced for QT collegians. Within our manuscript, we highlight the relevance of identity development, finances, relationships and spaces, institutions, and society on QT student success. We present this chapter with a commitment to social change for QT students and an obligation to engage campus administrators, higher education researchers, and legislators as our primary audiences. In order to maximize the impact of our scholarship, we organize our implications to focus on five important dimensions of success for QT students: institutional change, data collection, data analysis, policy and legislation, and using frameworks. In all we do and write, we strive to uplift QT students through equity-driven scholarship. Keywords

Queer · Trans · Undergraduate students · Higher education · Student success · Intersectionality · Queer theory · Identity development · Finances · Relationships and spaces · Institutions · Society · Frameworks · Student development theory · Multicontextual model for diverse learning environments · Belonging · Transformational tapestry model · Minority stress theory · College and university administrators · Higher education researchers · Legislators

Queer and Trans College Student Success: A Comprehensive Review and Call to Action In the current hostile sociopolitical landscape, students, educators, education administrators, and legislators are witnessing and experiencing vacuums in federal and state protections for equitable education outcomes for queer and trans (QT) students. The current political administration has wreaked havoc on protections for QT people, including narrowing federal nondiscrimination legislation to exclude QT

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people, while local and state legislators have contested restroom bills to limit the safety of trans people. Further, QT students of color and QT immigrant students have faced additional threats to their success in school and overall safety through the Muslim ban, uncertainty of the continuation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, increased detention and deportation, continued voter suppression, and threats to affirmative action. These legal and political acts, along with many others, have put QT students in danger. In addition, education leaders must reckon with the invisibility and exclusion of QT students in education policy that has predated these rollbacks. Without federal mandates or consistent statewide legislation, institutional nondiscrimination policies rarely include protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. This concern is symptomatic of not only the political attacks on QT survival but also of a demonstrated lack of institutional priority to ensure QT student success. As institutions undergo massive budget cuts at federal, state, and local levels, campus advocates and activists are concerned with the diminishment or removal of QT and other identity support services. Too few education data sets exist nationally that include QT students, and there is vast inconsistency institutionally as colleges and universities fail to prioritize collecting and analyzing quantitative or qualitative data about QT students. This dearth of QT student data demonstrates disregard of QT students, dehumanizing and erasing their experiences in student success scholarship and initiatives. Student success literature and research has a strong foothold in education research priorities. However, this literature heteronormatively and cisnormatively flattens students without attending to the unique and identity-specific conditions for QT student success. Although student success scholarship has grown to include examinations within and across social identities, rarely does this body of work include QT students. Therefore, the ways in which scholars define student success is based on cisgender and heterosexual dominance and identity-neutral politics. Yet, even when researchers recognize the need to discuss QT student success, the void of demographic data for QT students prevents scholars from producing nationally representative implications or conclusions. Defining student success broadly is a bold and important task, requiring the recognition and measurement of multiple methods of resilience situated within a multiply-oppressive system. Further, to define QT student success requires a holistic understanding of QT students’ academic, social, community, and personal experiences within educational contexts. Then, the barriers and facilitators of QT student success begin to emerge.

Purpose The purpose of this chapter is to explore QT student success. The core focus is rooted in undergraduate student experiences, with goals of illuminating how various overlapping contexts are uniquely experienced for QT collegians. Within

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our manuscript, we illuminate the relevance of identity development, finances, relationships and spaces, institutions, and society on QT student success. In all we do and write, we strive to uplift QT students through equity-driven scholarship. The intended audiences for this chapter are campus administrators, higher education researchers, and legislators. Although we expect a number of stakeholders to develop meaningful insights from this manuscript, we direct our conversation specifically to administrators, researchers, and legislators to recognize the dearth of scholarship that discusses large-scale educational contexts or policy for QT students in postsecondary education. Such a void in the literature is a disservice to QT students, and we place responsibility on administrators, researchers, and legislators to remedy these inequities through institutional and systems reform. We expect campus administrators to develop greater understanding about the institutional resources and policies that may foster student success among QT collegians. Recognizing the financial demands to support such initiatives, we direct our chapter to administrators who are in positions to advocate for socially conscious and equity-driven resource (re)allocation to serve QT students who have been historically ignored in higher education. There are a number of important methodological, theoretical, and empirical insights throughout the chapter, all of which will be relevant to researchers in higher education across all subdisciplines. Although most content relates directly to QT student success and experiences, we encourage higher education researchers with other focuses (e.g., methods, faculty, organizations and administration, policy and finance, teaching and learning) to pay close attention to the broader scholarly and social change implications of this chapter. Furthermore, contents in this chapter are not meant to be read solely by QT researchers who perform QT scholarship. QT students occupy all facets of higher education, across all sectors, institutional types, and student populations. Every education researcher is responsible for uplifting QT students in their broader body of scholarship. Regarding legislation, there is a deep void of institutional, state, or federal policies to support QT student success. We implore legislators to read this chapter and create new legislation or reform current legislation to elevate student success among QT students. Recognizing the power of coalition building, we encourage legislators who want to foster positive social change to begin institutionally and then develop cross-institutional partnerships to advocate for state and federal legislation that uplifts QT people in education. We begin our chapter by introducing our epistemology and positionalities as authors. Within the framing section, we also overview our intention to ground administrative, scholarly, and legislative conversations in existing student success frameworks commonly used in higher education scholarship. Next, we overview five major themes within our chapter that shape QT student success: identity development, finances, relationships and spaces, institutions, and society. We close with implications for institutional administrators, higher education researchers, and legislators in how to take action to value, measure, and improve QT student success.

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Framing Within this section, we ground ourselves by discussing our epistemology or how we understand the nature of knowing (Patton et al. 2016). Intimately connected to how we know what we know are our own positionalities and how we have come to devote ourselves to uplifting QT students through scholarship, practice, and advocacy.

Epistemology In this chapter, we use intersectionality theory to explore QT student success. While often misunderstood or utilized below its capacity for impact, intersectionality has the potential to transform education scholarship and approaches for social change. Additionally, we use queer theory as a tool to expose binary oversimplifications of QT student success concepts and focus on institutional and policy-level transformation rather than a focus on improving individual student persistence. Intersectionality. Intersectionality is a call to recognize interlocking systems of oppression (Crenshaw 1989, 1991) by moving past single-axis ways of thinking, being, and knowing (May 2015). We scaffold this epistemic approach by employing six core intersectionality constructs developed by Collins (2019) to synthesize literature on QT student success. These constructs include relationality, power, social inequality, social context, managing complexity, and using social justice as praxis. Critical thinking and creating knowledge through an intersectional lens require a focus on relational processes and the connections among categories and identities. Recognition of multiple ways of being is only the first step in using an intersectional approach; we must consider the ways that power manifests within these identities. We do not believe in neutral or static categories of identities. Rather, we know that dominant identities hold power and that oppressive systems anchor hierarchies. In these ways, social inequality provides the context for our understandings of QT student success. Additionally, we commit to analyzing QT student success with matrix thinking rather than through binary analyses and buzzwords (May 2015). We commit to strategies that de-center dominance and re-center the most marginalized students as we make recommendations. Intersectional theory requires researchers to manage complexity, rather than avoid or flatten complexity (Collins 2019). Power dynamics mark bodies, and researchers must resist flattening social problems by viewing them through monocategorical lenses of sexuality or gender (Collins 2017). Therefore, we embrace matrix thinking (May 2015) in order to analyze the intersections and overlaps of identity categories and propose complicated solutions to complex and textured social issues. We recognize the lure to simplify nuance by constructing binary ways of defining concepts such as retention, success, persistence, and degree attainment (Denton 2020). Further, we commit to describing and addressing QT student success with a vision of social justice and demonstrating that this praxis in inherently joined with liberatory research and legislation.

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Queer theory. Similar to intersectionality, queer theory rejects simplified solutions to complex social problems (Jagose 1996). Discourse about including QT students in retention and success initiatives often centers the most palatable, normative, and dominant QT students’ needs, othering QT students who do not fit the normative narrative of the institutional culture (Denton 2020). In this way, institutional agents are constructing normative QT subjects worthy of success and inclusion and nonnormative QT subjects who are excluded (Foucault 1990). As QT researchers, we disavow hierarchies of worthiness within our QT communities, and we resist the falsity of inclusion narratives that inevitably seek to fold QT students into dominant cultures (Conrad 2014). Rather, we seek to illuminate hegemony and normativizing rhetoric that exist in QT student success research, asserting that all QT students deserve healthy and successful educational experiences. Throughout this chapter, we weave Collins’ (2019) six constructs and matrix thinking (May 2015) with the goal of illuminating new understandings of QT student success. Queer theory anchors us in our resistance toward mere QT inclusion in dominant narratives of success. Further, using intersectionality theory and queer theory as analysis tools grounds us in the logic that studying and serving the most marginalized students is liberating for all students.

Jay’s Positionality The lens through which I primarily view the world is through my gay/queer identity. I also situate myself as a white cisgender man who currently benefits from the financial and positional privilege of being a faculty member in a state university. Combined, these social locations shape my interactions with and perceptions of academia as a site for transformation and liberation. I began my undergraduate experience in 2002 and largely determined my college choice based on tuition remission afforded to me from my mother’s employment as an accountant at a university. Her professional sacrifices afforded me the opportunity to attend college. Throughout college, I had loving support from my parents, yet had to navigate multiple contexts on my own. Although I performed during high school and college with high academic achievement, I rarely had a clear direction of my purpose in life. From an outside view, I was doing well academically and socially. Yet internally, I was struggling to find faculty or staff mentors. I relied heavily on peer supports, largely through my cocurricular engagements in athletics and performing arts. All through college, I hid my sexuality from everyone in my life. To cope with my secret second life, I would engage in high-risk binge drinking and other unhealthy behaviors. This substance abuse took a toll on my relationships with close friends and family, yet I did not know how to exist in the world any other way. It wasn’t until a week before I graduated with my undergraduate degree that I came out to friends as gay/queer. I would come out to my parents and sisters 2 years later as a graduate student. However, I had then become so acculturated to a gay/queer nightlife that my

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high-risk binge drinking continued throughout my graduate education. Yet, my academics thrived, and I was finding community and kinship among gay/queer friends. After a series of life-altering events accumulated to demand I change my life, I finally gave up drinking at the end of my doctoral studies. My relationship with gay/queer social life and peer supports transformed as a result, because most of my social supports were part of the gay/queer nightlife scene, which for me was synonymous with high-risk behaviors. I did not find my purpose or vocational calling until partway through my master’s program. I was studying school psychology with the intention of working with young students in elementary education. However, I experienced a number of queerphobic instances with faculty members and site supervisors that discouraged me from pursuing a career in elementary education. I quickly pivoted my interests and energy into working with college students and later enrolled in a doctoral program in student affairs. During my doctoral studies, I worked as an academic advisor, in QT student involvement and advocacy, and in residential life. I then began realizing the potential for higher education in serving as a site for liberation and affirmation for QT people. Partway through my doctoral studies, I developed close relationships with two influential mentors, Drs. Noah Drezner and Sue Rankin. Both modeled for me how to uplift QT people in educational research and demonstrated how to thrive as a queer person in academia. Having originally intended on pursuing administrative positions in student affairs, my interests shifted to becoming a researcher and studying QT student experiences. I delved into as many quantitative methods and survey design courses as I could because I saw an invisibility of QT people in largescale education surveys. I was determined to receive as much training as possible to promote inclusion of QT people in large-scale higher education survey research. I am now 7 years into my faculty career and still primarily focus on uplifting QT students in quantitative research with the goals of developing more inclusive and equitable methods and college experiences. Recently, I have refined my interests in directing my scholarship to college administrators, researchers, and legislators, recognizing the power and influence of quantitative research for resource allocation, new initiatives, and policy (re)formation to serve QT students. I embrace the beautiful messiness of performing critical quantitative research, understanding the importance of being adaptive to rather than dismissive of the potential of large-scale survey research to promote QT student success.

Dolan’s Positionality I situate myself as a simultaneously highly privileged person with multiple marginalized identities and experiences. I am a queer bisexual, nonbinary transgender person who is light-skinned, often white-passing, identifying as both white and Latinx with predominantly Cuban, Spanish, and Irish heritage. I grew up in the Northeast and was expected to and did attend college immediately after high school. I acquired a BS in mechanical engineering, where I was extremely underrepresented

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and felt no sense of belonging, community, or connection in my academic field. I found affinity with identity centers on my college campus, which emboldened me in my student success journey. Shortly after graduating, working briefly as an engineer and working in social services, I changed fields to enter education and received my MEd in higher education and student affairs administration. Since entering student affairs, I have been passionate about centering marginalized students and focusing on their persistence in often-hostile environments on college campuses. Since my master’s degree, I have worked 8 years in university QT resource centers, serving students and campus communities through student empowerment and mentorship, curriculum development, program planning, and policy advising and writing. I have also served on regional and national boards in leadership roles, advancing advocacy agendas for and with trans people in higher education. I have experienced extensive cissexism and binarism both as a student and professional, and I have also witnessed and acted as an advocate alongside nonbinary students and communities in my professional roles. I am eager to bring their experiences into literature. Now, as a PhD student in educational leadership and policy studies, I am particularly interested in building power with nonbinary and QTPOC students through learning about their resilience, senses of belonging, and experiences of minority stress. Within the scope of defining, describing, and analyzing QT student success in education, I know that my privileges throughout my early and continual education contribute to my ability to have a voice in this discussion and influence my understanding of student success. I credit identity centers and the advocates in those spaces with supporting and empowering me in ways I did not know I deserved. And I recognize those who were not granted the privileges from which I benefit and who are not afforded the opportunity to contribute to this discourse. In that vein, I am wary of the whiteness centered in the majority of QT student experience literature and the normative nature of the topic of student success. I seek to agitate the binary conceptualizations of success/failure, retention/attrition, graduation/failure, and grit/unqualified, among others. I recognize that assessments of merit (e.g., school testing, standardized testing, and other norming practices such as IQ tests) tend to be formed through racism, sexism, and other oppressive forces that distort the true definitions and depictions of success. I devote myself to helping to end policing and prison pipelines in schools and consistently center Black and Indigenous leadership. I ground myself in the knowledge that heterosexism, cissexism, and binarism are steeped in and cannot be separated from other interlocking systems of oppression, such as racism, classism, and ableism. My embodied knowledge as a benefactor of white supremacy and as a racialized body, a queer and trans person, and highly educated current student guide me as I dissect and describe QT student success in this chapter.

Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks Student success scholarship has not historically included QT students, mostly due to the void of national data that includes sexuality and gender demographic variables to

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Table 1 Theoretical frameworks used in manuscript by section Section Epistemology Identity development Finances Relationships and spaces Institutions Society

Framework Intersectionality (Collins 2019; Crenshaw 1989, 1991) Queer theory (Jagose 1996) Student development theory (Abes et al. 2019; Patton et al. 2016) Conceptual model of student success (Perna and Thomas 2006) Multicontextual model for diverse learning environments (Hurtado et al. 2012) Belonging (Strayhorn 2012) Transformational tapestry model (Rankin and Reason 2008) Minority stress theory (Meyer 2003, 2015)

identify QT people in higher education (Garvey 2014). The historical exclusion of QT students in these national higher education surveys is indicative of the devaluing of QT people broadly, and it has had great impact on the misalignment of QT student success scholarship with general student success frameworks. For years, scholarship about QT students required separate data collection and instrumentation given the exclusion of QT people from broader student success surveys (Garvey 2016; Nicolazzo et al. 2017). Influential student success frameworks developed by higher education scholars were not initially intended to study QT students, and this theoretical and conceptual disparity continues. To combat the historical exclusion of QT people in student success frameworks, we use a number of theoretical and conceptual frameworks in our chapter. Although most were not originally created to study or understand QT student success, we argue that higher education scholars must align existing and new student success frameworks with QT student experiences to more wholly represent success. We begin each section with a brief overview of various frameworks that we find relevant for the content examined to encourage creativity in theoretical application (Table 1). Although many of these frameworks have wide applicability across all sections overviewed in this manuscript, we chose to place them within specific sections given their close connections to certain concepts. We include implications at the close of our chapter to support researchers, administrators, and legislators who want to advocate for QT students using empirically grounded theoretical and conceptual frameworks.

Identity Development Theories of identity development help educators understand how students grow and increase complexity of their own developmental capabilities (Rodgers 1990). As noted by Patton et al. (2016), student development theory encompasses “A collection of theories related to college students that explains how they grow and develop holistically, with increased complexity, while enrolled in a postsecondary educational environment” (p. 6). Although student development and success are canon in

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higher education scholarship, these core concepts are not often examined together in research concerning QT collegians. For a number of reasons, including the historical exclusion of QT people in student success initiatives and void of data about QT students, researchers do not have a firm understanding of how sexual and gender identity development shape QT students’ pathways into and through higher education. In the following section, we use student development theory to discuss development and QT students’ success.

Student Development Theory Abes, Jones, and Stewart (2019) defined three waves of student development theories, beginning with foundational theories of development in the first wave. Identity development theories did not emerge until the 1990s during the second wave of student development theories, including sexual and gender identity development. These theories relied on stage-like psychological understandings of sexual identity, mostly focusing on coming out as a catalyst for identity formation among lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults (D’Augelli 1994). Since most early models focused on monosexual identities of lesbian and gay people, Weinberg, Williams, and Pryor (1994) proposed a model for bisexual identity development, and Mollet (2020) developed a stage model for asexual college students. More recently, development models have emphasized the complex relationship between internal and external developmental processes for sexual identity formation (Dillon et al. 2011). Regarding gender identity, few models have historically included people outside of the restrictive gender binary of (cisgender) man and woman. Only recently have development scholars emphasized the entanglement of sex, gender, gender identity, and gender expression in the formation of a person’s gender and gender identity (Jourian 2015). Included among these gender identity development scholars is an emerging focus on gender identity among trans students (Beemyn and Rankin 2011; Nicolazzo 2017). In the third wave of student development, scholars began to incorporate critical and post-structural perspectives, recognizing the importance of deconstructing and critiquing prevailing assumptions about development and placing power, privilege, and inequity at the forefront. Critical theories like intersectionality (Collins 2019; Crenshaw 1989, 1991) and critical race theory (Delgado and Stefancic 2001; Ladson-Billings 1998; McCoy and Rodricks 2015) challenged hegemonic norms by analyzing the impact of structural and systemic oppression and privilege on students’ development. Intersectionality in particular challenged the false silos that are created by addressing only a single dimension of a person’s identity and complicated environmental influences by emphasizing structural, representational, and political intersectionality as relative to growth and development (Collins 2019; Duran et al. 2020). Post-structural theories like queer theory raised questions about development and the stability of identities, instead articulating identity as enacted, dynamic, fluid, and largely influenced by constructions of people and society.

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Outness and Identity Disclosure Outness refers to the extent that QT people disclose their sexual and/or gender identity to others (Sorgen 2011). Second-wave development theories typically framed outness as “a process by which individuals pass through a series of key stages on a pathway from a split self into a person whose sexual orientation [and/or gender identity] has been fully integrated into a healthy, whole self” (Klein et al. 2015, p. 317). Contemporary identity development scholars do not view outness as a singular experience, or one that should be exalted as an ending point to a developmental journey (Garvey et al. 2019a). Nonetheless, a number of scholars have examined identity disclosure among QT collegians, determining that it is an influential dimension to student success (Garvey et al. 2018b, 2019a; Sorgen 2011). Much like QT student success scholarship broadly, there is little empirical evidence to connect identity development processes with students’ transitions into and through postsecondary education. However, most studies examining outness privilege dominant assumptions of whiteness by undersampling (or not including) QT students of color, using white QT students as reference groups in analytical coding, and ignoring other identity classifications as influential to outness, all of which complicate how student success scholars understand identity disclosure relative to student success measures. Although limited in scope, stage-like models that promote outness as a catalyst for sexual and/or gender identity development provide helpful insights for student success. Regarding college choice and matriculation, having a clear formation of one’s identity can promote greater clarity in which academic and professional goals to pursue (Hurtado et al. 2012). Additionally, identity disclosure promotes community and kinship among peers, faculty, and staff (Garvey and Inkelas 2012; Garvey et al. 2018b, 2019b). These connections are particularly important, because fostering connections among first-year QT students is a defining characteristic for promoting first-year retention and persistence (Squire and Norris 2014). Although we disagree that outness should be viewed as a desired or attainable outcome for all, we do affirm that students who have a strong internal sense of self will be able to navigate potentially negative external contexts in order to persist into and through college.

Queerphobia and Transphobia One specific benefit of intersectionality and other critical frameworks is the necessity of centering systems of oppression and privilege in analyses of student success. Particularly for QT collegians, they must continually navigate hostile environments that perpetuate queerphobia and transphobia. Furthermore, asexual students report acephobia (Mollet and Lackman 2018, 2019), and bisexual students experience monosexism and exclusion within QT communities (Dolan 2013; Garvey et al. 2018b). For students with multiple marginalized identities, these environments are also deeply connected to racism, classism, ableism, xenophobia, and other oppressive contexts. Although not traditionally included in the lexicon of student

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development theories, critical theories like intersectionality and others provide helpful frameworks to examine and understand the role of environments in growth and development. Queerphobia and transphobia are ever-present and can have deep impacts on students’ educational trajectories. When considering representational intersectionality (Crenshaw 1991), a student who does not have QT educators may not wholly see themselves represented in their academic experiences. Such isolation and lack of representation may impact students’ decisions to pursue specific academic disciplines or an undergraduate education altogether. Regarding systems for matriculating into a college or university, there are innumerable processes that require students to place themselves in restrictive sex binaries of male/female per federal education guidelines (Linley and Kilgo 2018). The perpetual misgendering of trans people in the college application and enrollment process can cumulatively have a detrimental impact on a student’s decision to continue pursuing their undergraduate degree.

Normativity Queer theory embraces fluidity and nonnormativity, and it uplifts the complexity of sexuality and gender. When QT students are able to embrace more complex images of themselves, they are more likely to feel whole and centered (Garvey et al. 2017b). However, academia is perpetually governed by normative expectations of gender, sexuality, and expression (Denton 2020). Academic disciplines, particularly accredited and professional preparation programs, require uniform curricula that discourage critical co-construction of knowledge. Subjects like education and engineering conform to national standards within their disciplines and therefore may not as often embrace critical dimensions of learning or knowing. Dominant societal narratives of masculinity and femininity are key examples of how academic disciplines are microsystems that reinforce society’s dominant and oppressive rules for expressing gender and sexuality. In such positivistic fields like nursing or business, there may be little room for nonnormative approaches to learning or development. Within these academic environments, QT students may translate disciplinary foreclosure to their own sexual and gender identities. Disciplines that enforce strict learning and curricula may not be the most welcoming space for QT students to come into their own queerness and transness (Linley and Nguyen 2015). The concept of homonormativity provides another angle of understanding and critiquing normativity. Coined by Duggan (2003), homonormativity refers to actions QT people take to assimilate to hegemonic structures, such as seeking the right to legally marry, forming a family unit, pursuing acceptance in the military, petitioning equal rights in prisons and detention facilities, and otherwise toning down QT identities to be more palatable within a cisheteropatriarchal society. QT people who ascribe to homonormativity often perpetuate the narrative that “we are just like you,” instead of resisting normative ways of being. Rather than seeking liberation through actions of claiming and carving unique and inherently queered ways of

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being, homonormativity tempts QT people to seek acceptance into rather than subvert cisheteropatriarchy (Conrad 2014). When seeking this acceptance, QT people assume and center dominance, such as whiteness, being cisgender, and monosexuality, thereby marginalizing QT people of color, agender, asexual, bisexual, intersex, and nonbinary people, as well as people with other QT identities that do not fit neat and clear binary conceptualizations of identity (Cohen 1997). Creating hierarchies of power within QT communities is not only inherently a non-queer act, it is detrimental to QT liberation, causes active harm, and perpetuates oppression within QT communities (Cohen 1997; Conrad 2014).

Finances College and university budgets rely on a diverse portfolio of revenues, including tuition and fees, philanthropy, federal grants and contracts, and state appropriations. Yet, state appropriations to higher education have been significantly reduced over the past several decades to close budget gaps caused by economic recessions and resource allocation to other public goods (Long 2016). With declining state support for colleges and universities, administrators may increase tuition and fees as a way of balancing institutional budgets (Zhao 2019). These increased costs limit access to an undergraduate education and place financial onus on students. With costs rising, more students will question whether they have finances to access college. The decision to incur student debt and the amount of debt accrued vary by students’ social identities and family contributions (Beal et al. 2019). Given the importance of students’ identities and familial relationships, one may logically conclude that QT students’ financial needs are an important area for research and policy formation. Yet, few scholars have examined the impact of finances on QT student success. Although higher education finance scholars have written that “Future research should also further consider variations in the effects of student loans across demographic groups” (Perna et al. 2017, p. 282), QT students are seldom considered as an identifiable student population with unique needs. Next, we use Perna and Thomas’ (2006) conceptual model of student success to discuss the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and college choice relative to QT students’ finances and success.

Conceptual Model of Student Success We frame our conversation of student finances and student success using Perna and Thomas’ (2006) conceptual model of student success. Their framework relied on a cross-disciplinary examination of student success, including insights from economics, education, psychology, and sociology. Perna and Thomas’ (2006) student success framework represents students’ completion of four key academic transitions: college readiness, college enrollment, college achievement, and post-college attainment. Their framework assumes that multiple layers influence student success:

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internal context, family context, school context, and social, economic, and policy context. Perna and Thomas (2006) discussed that student success processes vary across groups. They noted that “the path to student success may vary across racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and other groups based on differences in culture, as well as differences in family resources, local school and community structures and supports, economic and social conditions, and public policies” (p. 3). Yet, few (if any) student success studies attend to QT students or identities. As discussed by Braxton, Brier, and Steele (2007–2008), “a paucity of research on [QT students] exists making it difficult to identify specific recommendations for policy and research rooted in empirical research” (p. 383). Legg, Cofino, and Sanlo (2020) echoed this observation more than 10 years later, noting that there remains a scarcity of scholarship about QT student retention. Students’ finances have a strong influence on their potential success across a number of layers. Perna and Thomas (2006) noted that financial aid involves students’ aspirations to pursue higher education, student, and family knowledge about financial aid, availability of aid, and information and support for financial aid provided by institutions and schools. For QT students, financial opportunity and wellness play an especially important role in college access and completion. Financial problems harm QT students’ academic studies more than their cisgender heterosexual peers (Greathouse et al. 2018). Particularly among trans students, they experience more financial strain then their cisgender peers (Rehr and Regan 2020). Families may choose to terminate financial support if a student is outed or choses to disclose their QT identity (Garvey et al. 2018b). Although there is scarce research that examines QT students’ finances, two key notable dimensions deserve close attention: federal financial aid and college choice.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid A vast majority of college students rely on federal financial aid in order to attend college (Perna et al. 2017). These federal loans provide necessary funds to pursue an undergraduate education at a low interest rate. In order to qualify, students and/or their families submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the government, detailing their assets and accounting for income and family wealth (Baum 2008). After calculating assets and determining where families fall above or below government thresholds for financial access, the FAFSA process provides college students access to need-based grants, such as the Pell grant; need-based subsidized loans, such as the Stafford loan; and need-based work subsidies, known as the campus work study. Although the FAFSA benefits many students in their pursuit of a college education, it contains many roadblocks for QT students and also excludes many students with financial needs. Specifically, undocumented students and international students are not eligible for federal aid, providing additional

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financial burden on undocumented and international QT students. The precarity of QT students’ familial relationships and financial needs also creates potentially problematic contexts for FAFSA. QT youth are more likely than their cisgender heterosexual peers to experience family rejection (Ryan et al. 2009) or to be disowned by family resulting in homelessness (Choi et al. 2015), impacting their financial status and ability to cover the costs of college. Students under the age of 24 who are not legally emancipated from their guardians cannot submit the FAFSA without parent or guardian approval, information, and signatures. Therefore, if a QT student lives in or has left a hostile, abusive, or unaccepting environment with family, they will experience roadblocks to accessing federal financial aid (Burns 2017). Unsupportive guardians may refuse to sign the FAFSA; estranged QT youth may not be able to acquire a guardian’s financial information and signature in order to submit the form; and guardians with enough resources may not qualify for financial aid but monetarily cut off or disown QT students. Trans students, even those from supportive and affirming families, encounter barriers to accessing financial aid when their forms of legal identification do not perfectly match their social security records. This problem may arise when a student changes their name or sex marker on some state and/or federal records or if their birth certificate does not match another form of identification (Burns 2017). Trans students also rely more strongly on scholarships to finance their college tuitions than their cisgender peers (Rehr and Regan 2020), which makes FAFSA access even more important for these students.

College Choice Financial burdens and QT campus climate are major considerations for QT people who are applying to college and selecting where to matriculate or transfer. QT students are likely to fear discrimination from family or schools if they disclose their QT identities in financial aid forms, scholarship applications, or admissions applications (Garvey et al. 2017c). In addition to finances influencing college choice, QT students also consider where they can experience a QTaffirming campus when selecting where to matriculate (Squire and Mobley 2015). The Campus Pride Index (CPI), created and housed by the national nonprofit organization Campus Pride, is a rubric-based self-assessment tool that institution administrators can use to calculate QT-affirming climate scores. Also included in the CPI website are student testimonials and contact information for QT campus resource professionals. When shared publicly, these self-assessments can support QT students’ college choice and enrollment decisions by promoting transparency and QT-affirming environments within colleges and universities. Of note, few community colleges have completed the CPI, primarily because few have QT campus resource professionals to assess and improve QT campus climate (Garvey et al. 2015).

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Relationships and Spaces The campus ecology is a complex landscape of varying influences, including both informal and formal academic and social spaces. From informal interactions with peers to academic classroom experiences, students’ success is greatly shaped by the interactions and relationships that they experience across various spaces. Particularly for students who are marginalized in academia, spaces that promote warm climate, belonging, and community are critical for academic outcomes, wellness, and overall success (Rankin and Reason 2008; Strayhorn 2012). QT students need spaces where they can build peer communities, get involved on campus, build leadership and civic engagement skillsets, and benefit from mentorship from campus professionals or peers. Especially because QT students must exist in colleges and universities that inherently disadvantage QT people through interpersonal, institutional, and societal oppression, spaces that promote kinship and community are vital for student success (Nicolazzo et al. 2017; Pitcher and Simmons 2020). However, many QT spaces tend to center dominance by privileging white, cisgender, and homonormative norms (Johnson and Javier 2017; Mitchell and Means 2014; Nicolazzo 2016). For example, when QT resources are primarily focused on bringing white cisgender gay speakers or when QT trainings do not include trans allyship, not only are QT students of color and trans students broadly excluded, these QT resources are replicating the hegemony that marginalized students face on campus. When QT resource centers center whiteness and multicultural centers do not consider, include, or represent QT identities, QT students of color report inability to be fully authentic in a space built with the intent to support them (Blockett 2017). QT students of color, especially at predominantly white campuses, construct counterspaces (Delgado and Stefancic 2001; McCoy and Rodricks 2015; Yosso and Lopez 2010) where they develop kinship networks as a form of survival and community care (Blockett 2017). Institutions of higher education must center the most marginalized and commit to intersectional campus cultural and resource centers in their efforts to ensure student success (Blockett 2017; Duran et al. 2020). In the following section, we overview spaces and relationships that are critical for QT student success. To frame our conversation, we introduce campus climate and belonging as frameworks for understanding and examining the importance of these environmental contexts on QT student academic achievement and overall wellbeing.

Multicontextual Model for Diverse Learning Environments Campus climate refers to “the cumulative attitudes, behaviors, and standards of employees and students concerning access for, inclusion of, and level of respect for individual and group needs, abilities, and potential” (Rankin 2005, p. 17). Campus climate is a difficult construct to measure and assess (Rankin and Reason 2008), yet is critical to students’ success in higher education (Garvey et al. 2018c).

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There are a number of theoretical and conceptual models to understand climate in higher education. One such model is the multicontextual model for diverse learning environments (MMDLE) by Hurtado, Alvarez, Guillermo-Wann, Cuellar, and Arellano (2012). The MMDLE emphasizes an ecological examination of climate to account for the influence of multiple intersecting spheres within higher education. A number of scholars have examined campus climate among QT students, noting a gradual improvement in campus climate perceptions across time (Garvey et al. 2017b). Although there has been a progressive improvement in campus climate for QT students generationally, QT students still experience uninviting campus environments that are not conducive to their academic or personal success (Linley et al. 2016). Among QT students, campus climate has been studied in regard to student success (Pitcher et al. 2018), student perceptions and experiences (Garvey et al. 2017b), faculty experiences (Garvey and Rankin 2018), and faculty-student relationships (Linley et al. 2016; Vaccaro 2012). Scholars have examined campus climate both within and outside of the classroom (Garvey and Rankin 2015a; Linley et al. 2016) and across different institutional types (Garvey et al. 2015).

Belonging Belonging is defined as “students’ perceived social support on campus, a feeling or sensation of connectedness, the experience of mattering or feeling cared about, accepted, respected, valued by, and important to the group (e.g., campus community) or others on campus (e.g., faculty, peers)” (Strayhorn 2012, p. 3). One prevailing higher education framework to understand belonging is Strayhorn’s (2012) college student sense of belonging model. Belonging has both cognitive and affective dimensions, combining students’ self-perception of their role within groups with students’ self-assessment of their own actions. Strayhorn noted that sense of belonging is not solely a human need but also a dominant motivating force that shapes student behavior. Belonging has strong ties to students’ academic achievement and success; it is especially salient for QT students because experiences of marginalization can generate barriers to fulfilling a sense of belonging within academic experiences. When students’ personal safety is at risk, they are less likely to feel a sense of belonging or identify with that campus community. As an act of survival, they are then more likely to disengage where they perceive there may be a risk (Garvey and Rankin 2015a; Garvey et al. 2015). Trans students’ higher exposure to discrimination is directly linked with a lower sense of belonging than cisgender students (Garvey and Rankin 2015a). Further, nonbinary students are more likely than binary trans people to experience isolation and lack of acceptance from QT communities, leaving nonbinary students to create their own support communities (Nicolazzo 2016; Rankin and Beemyn 2012). Although important for QT student success, Blockett (2017) noted that the concept of belonging refers to fictive kin and imaginary ties of choice, thus reinforcing cisheteronormative assumptions by emphasizing biological bonds.

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Relationships Relationships with peers and faculty are the cornerstone of student success (Mayhew et al. 2016). Particularly among students with marginalized identities, positive interactions with peers mitigate negative campus climate experiences (Garvey et al. 2017b). For QT people, community is integral to surviving and thriving in higher education (Blockett 2017; Miller 2017; Nicolazzo 2017; Pitcher and Simmons 2020). In the following section, we discuss peer and faculty relationships as important components to promoting QT student success. Peer relationships. QT students seek or form friendships, community, and kinship networks in order to explore identity, build friendships, and engage with campus resources or activism (Miller 2017; Pitcher and Simmons 2020). These relationships may take the form of looser networking, tight connections, or chosen family relations, all of which have proven to be survival strategies for QT students in oppressive institutions (Pitcher and Simmons 2020). Kinship is considerably important for QT students, as it often is considered chosen family. For QT students who experience rejection or discomfort from their families, these kinship relationships often take the form of familial bonds (Nicolazzo 2017). Since most US family structures are cisnormative and heteronormative, centering monogamy and childbearing (Eng 2010), many QT people have created and named typologies of romantic or non-romantic and sexual or nonsexual intimate relationships outside of these structures (Pitcher and Simmons 2020). These kinship relationships transcend college friendships and often form the basis for QT students to create safety for and with each other on college campuses and beyond. QT peer relationships foster space for students to share stories, make meaning together, and validate each other when QT students feel isolated (Garvey et al. 2019a). Affirming support networks promote positive self-esteem, sense of purpose, and adjustment for QT students (Ellard-Gray and Desmarais 2014; Schmidt et al. 2011). Often, QT students may bond in community over common campus struggles and build power through planning actions or engaging in activism together to bring about change. Additionally, scholars have demonstrated the critical need for trans, nonbinary, and agender students to carve spaces for regrouping in order to build power and to practice self and community care (Flint et al. 2019; Garvey et al. 2019b; Nicolazzo 2017; Nicolazzo et al. 2017). Conversely, the absence of kinship is detrimental to QT student success. When trans students do not have access to supportive resources or meaningful relationships of kinship, they are less likely to graduate (Goodrich 2012; Singh et al. 2013). Faculty relationships. Faculty have a significant impact on QT students’ success, persistence, personal wellness, and academic outcomes, whether it be positive or negative. Faculty support students outside the classroom as advisors, through being role models, and through being visible on campus in informal settings (Kilgo et al. 2019). QT students feel more academically integrated and socially connected on campus when they have consistent and meaningful interactions with faculty (Woodford and Kulick 2015), especially at community colleges (Garvey et al. 2015). Students feel supported when out or ally faculty or administrators take on

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leadership roles on campus, hang Safe Zone placards in their offices, or when an out leader brings their partner to a campus event (Kilgo et al. 2019). QT students have reported that faculty can create harm in and outside of classroom environments when they promote queerphobic or transphobic rhetoric, erase QT themes from their course materials, or uphold binary and cissexist understandings of gender. Unfortunately, QT students who are more out or who disclose their QT identities in academic spaces have been found to experience higher rates of harassment and bias (Tetreault et al. 2013), demonstrating a higher rate of vulnerability for out QT students and more negative perceptions of classroom climate (Garvey and Rankin 2015b). Pryor (2015) noted that even when faculty and peers make well-intentioned efforts to include and affirm trans people in the classroom, trans students still are likely to consider the classroom a normatively gendered environment (Bilodeau 2009) and feel isolated, frustrated, and uncomfortable in academic spaces. Additionally, faculty have the propensity to positively impact QT students within formal and informal learning environments. QT students notice when faculty interrupt and confront heterosexist, cissexist, and binarist classroom comments and defend QT rights. QT students feel supported in their classroom participation when faculty tie QT inclusivity to the overall academic mission of the institution, weaving QT inclusion into their classroom culture. Faculty who are knowledgeable about QT issues and include QT topics in their course material empower QT students who wish to research QT themes and center QT people in their academic pursuits (Garvey and Rankin 2015a; Linley et al. 2016). QT students also feel safer and report an overall stronger sense of wellness when faculty ask for and use affirming names and pronouns for students in and outside of their classrooms, notice the way heterosexist assumptions and gender binary manifest in their course material and instruction, and make efforts to mitigate harm or accommodate students (Kilgo et al. 2019).

Spaces Physical spaces and organizations provide direct support to QT students by serving as a community or gathering place. Just as importantly, these spaces enrich QT students’ lives by serving as signals for inclusion, community, and support. When considering spaces that uplift QT students, we highlight three key areas within undergraduate education: student organizations and activism, QT resource centers and services, and academic spaces. Student organizations and activism. QT student groups create opportunities for students to grow as leaders, build community, learn from each other, and engage in activism. In these organic, yet sometimes bureaucratic organizations, students engage with QT discourse, create community, and mobilize together (Garvey et al. 2019a). Additionally, QT student organizations provide space where students experience belonging and connect with support, both of which have positive impacts on QT student retention and success (Garvey 2020; Pitcher et al. 2018). Particularly for students whose identities are not always centered within QT student services, most

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notably bisexual, pansexual, fluid students (Garvey et al. 2018b), asexual students (Mollet and Lackman 2018), trans students (Garvey et al. 2019b), and QT students of color (Duran 2019), finding community in student organizations can be invaluable for belonging and transitions. Trans students specifically navigate identity development, build community, and foster belonging in QT student organizations, and these organizations also have a positive relationship with trans students’ persistence in college (Nicolazzo et al. 2017). QT students may engage as positional leaders within QT organizations and formal networks, or take a different path as queer transformational activists (Renn and Bilodeau 2005). These students often envision and enact change outside of formal decision-making channels at their institution through organizing actions and by creating other ways to voice their concerns on campus. QT students and those with multiple marginalized identities engage in activism as a form of survival in hegemonic spaces (Blockett 2017; Linder et al. 2019; Nicolazzo 2017). Unfortunately, administrators often protect dominance within campus structures and policies, and student activists receive backlash from educators and student affairs professionals when perceived to be too radical. Such repercussions often lead student activists to experience burnout, decreased academic performance and learning, and increased distrust in campus leadership (Linder et al. 2019). QT students of color often do not report experiencing the same levels of support or amount of space allocated to their white QT peers for activism (Blockett 2018). These inequities demonstrate that although higher education institutions may take symbolic actions of support, whether they involve fiscal resources, undertaking educational trainings, or committing personnel resources to solve student concerns, the impact of these actions does not always trickle down to reach the QT students who most need them (Rankin and Reason 2008). QT resource centers and services. The Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals (Consortium 2020) reports that approximately 320 institutions worldwide have QT resource professionals on their campuses. Since this statistic includes campuses with at least one professional who works 20 hours per week or more, far fewer institutions support QT resource centers with more than one full-time staff. Many of these professional positions and resource centers exist because of student activism and demands (Marine 2011; Renn 2010). These professionals, often situated in QT resource centers or departments, serve students through advising QT student organizations and training campus departments and communities, host events and programs, and advocate for QT student needs (Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education 2019). QT services often provide physical space for QT campus community members, offer support such as counseling and advocacy services, and serve as symbols of QT inclusion (Pitcher et al. 2018). QT resource centers are more common at large public institutions and are more prevalent in geopolitically neoliberal regions, such as the West Coast and large cities (Fine 2012). Few two-year community colleges provide fiscally supported QT resources or professionals to serve QT students (Garvey et al. 2015). At present, five of approximately 101 historically Black colleges or universities employ QT resource professionals and provide a QT student affairs department, office, or

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resource center, and 32% have recognized QT student organizations (Mobley and Hall 2020). Little data exist on the prevalence of QT resource centers and personnel at other types of minority-serving institutions, such as Hispanic-serving institutions, Asian American and Pacific Islander serving institutions, or tribal colleges and universities. Religiously affiliated colleges are less likely to host and support QT resource centers on their campuses (Fine 2012); in fact, some religious institutions have antagonized their QT students through exclusionary policies (Wolff et al. 2017). Unfortunately, institutions that need QT resource centers the most are the least likely to have one on campus (Fine 2012). QT resource professionals advocate for QT students’ needs, serve as role models, and have a strong positive impact on QT students’ academic outcomes (Oliveira 2017; Pitcher et al. 2018). Additionally, the presence of a QT resource center or QT resource professional staff sends a message to prospective students that the institution values and supports QT student success. Centers and staff that support QT students can also lead initiatives in collecting assessment data for retention initiatives (Garvey 2020), emphasizing the importance of documenting, researching, and making visible the experiences of QT students (Legg et al. 2020). When institutions allocate resources to QT resource centers and professionals to bring speakers not just about but for QT communities (Marine and Nicolazzo 2014), QT students feel validated and represented, and cisgender heterosexual students have an opportunity to learn without it being at the expense of other QT students. QT resource centers also host high-impact educational practices, such as Lavender or Rainbow Graduation ceremonies, centering QT graduates and providing space for them to celebrate with chosen family in ways they may not be able to if they cannot be out during their university commencement. QT resource centers and staff also often write curriculum and offer trainings for university community members to learn more about heterosexism, cissexism, binarism, and how to be better allies and accomplices to QT students. Hiring QT resource staff and providing space through a QT resource center or department for QT students is a great first step; however, it does not often build enough capacity for QT equity work on campus (Hoffman and Pryor 2018). Underfunded, understaffed, and overscheduled, QT resource center staff consistently report a need for more institutional support for their work. Many QT resource centers do not employ one or more permanent, full-time, professional staff and often rely on undergraduate and graduate students to direct these resources with little mentorship, guidance, or training (Catalano and Tillapaugh 2020; Tillapaugh and Catalano 2019). Too often, QT resource centers and professionals do not have the institutional power or influence needed to make systemic changes needed to have a strong and holistic positive impact on QT student success (Hoffman and Pryor 2018). The presence of a QT resource center on a college campus does not negate the presence of queerphobia and transphobia that QT students must confront every day (Pitcher et al. 2018; Preston and Hoffman 2015). Academic spaces. Queerphobia and transphobia are pervasive throughout academic spaces, as documented by numerous scholars studying campus and classroom climate in colleges and universities (Linley and Nguyen 2015; Patridge et al. 2014; Sevecke et al. 2015). Indeed, overt and hostile aggression toward QT people can

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have devastating effects on student success. Moreover, subtle discriminatory acts also detrimentally shape QT student success. Whether QT students do not feel represented in curricula (Linley and Nguyen 2015; Patridge et al. 2014) or observe faculty and peers as being silent when QT discrimination does occur (Mathies et al. 2019), negative experiences and poor perceptions of climate increase QT students’ likelihood of leaving campus (Garvey et al. 2018c; Tetreault et al. 2013). On the other hand, affirming and validating classroom spaces positively contribute to student engagement and, ultimately, student persistence (Garvey and Inkelas 2012; Garvey et al. 2018c). Many of these positive dimensions of classroom experiences are led by faculty initiatives, demonstrating the critical role of affirming faculty in QT student experiences (Garvey et al. 2015). Academic disciplines further escalate the problematic cultures in academic spaces for QT students and serve as meaningful environments in which QT students’ experiences and climate perceptions vary considerably across disciplines (Rankin et al. 2019; Vaccaro 2012). Certain academic disciplines may be chilly and uninviting for QT students, for example, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors (Hughes 2017; Patridge et al. 2014). Conversely, other academic disciplines, social sciences, and humanities in particular are typically more welcoming for QT people (Rankin et al. 2019). Linley and Nguyen (2015) postulated that disciplines which embrace positivism and objectivity (i.e., business, health professions) minimize the impact and importance of sexuality and gender in curricula, whereas other disciplines like social work and social sciences offer more open and affirming environments for students to engage with their own social identities. Though not directly related to academic spaces, a number of scholars have recently explored high-impact educational practices (Kuh 2008) and the inequities experienced among QT students. These practices are particularly influential in student success because they promote student-faculty interactions, which are a strong antecedent for academic achievement among QT students (Garvey and Inkelas 2012). Students who engage in high-impact educational practices find greater academic and personal success because of their involvement (Kuh 2009). Although few scholars have studied high-impact educational practices among QT students, recent scholarship affirms student-faculty relationships as highly influential for QT students’ participation (BrckaLorenz et al. 2017; Garvey et al. 2018a). Yet, scholars have recently asserted that pervasive whiteness detrimentally permeates high-impact educational practices and undermines trans students’ educational success (Stewart and Nicolazzo 2019). When institutional and structural oppression limits QT students’ access to high-impact educational practices, it restricts opportunities for developing meaningful and sustaining relationships with faculty, which ultimately impacts student success.

Institutions Individual and interpersonal contexts have proximal impact on QT student success. However, the responsibility for ensuring success for all students, including QT students, must primarily rest on the actions and advocacy from college and

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university administrators. In the following section, we introduce the transformational tapestry model (Rankin and Reason 2008) to emphasize administrator responsibility for institutional transformation. Following, we highlight resources that provide national inventories of institutional policies that promote QT success, including the CPI, Trans Policy Clearinghouse (TPC), and a policy and practice recommendation hub created by the Consortium. In the major portions of this section, we overview key institutional policies and contexts that foster QT student success.

Transformational Tapestry Model Rankin and Reason’s (2008) transformational tapestry model (TTM) is a comprehensive strategic model to support campus communities in conducting inclusive assessments of campus climate. Their model includes four dimensions: current campus climate, climate assessment, transformational interventions, and the resulting transformed climate. Rankin and Reason define climate as “current attitudes, behaviors, and standards and practices of employees and students of an institution. . .particularly on those attitudes, behaviors, and standards/practices that concern the access for, inclusion of, and level of respect for individual and group needs, abilities, and potential” (p. 264). The TTM utilizes a power and privilege lens, recognizing the centrality of these concepts for transformational processes. Rankin and Reason’s model emphasizes the complexity of colleges and universities, as well as the necessity of multiple contexts to systemically transform a campus climate as opposed to conducting a singular intervention. In particular, the TTM conceptualizes the entanglement of various contexts, including access/retention, research/scholarship, inter- and intragroup relations, curriculum and pedagogy, university policy/services, and external relations. Although the TTM supports institutions in developing climate assessments, the core role of the model is to create sustainable and strategic initiatives accompanied by implementation and accountability practices to improve campus climate.

National Inventories of QT Resources Within the TTM, Rankin and Reason (2008) emphasize university policies and resources as necessary to a transformed campus climate. Because most higher education scholars and administrators are uneducated about institutional-level policies and resources that serve and uplift QT student success, a number of nonprofit entities have pooled together lists of important policy and services that college and university administrators may offer. We highlight three such national inventories for QT services: the CPI, TPC, and a policy and practice recommendation hub created by the Consortium. Campus Pride is a national nonprofit that advocates for QT-friendly college environments by developing necessary resources, programs, and services to support QT and ally students on their campuses. One of their signature services is the administration of the CPI, launched in 2007. The CPI was created to support

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campuses in assessing policies, programs, and practices that promote QT inclusion across eight dimensions of QT inclusion: policy inclusion, support and institutional commitment, academic life, student life, housing, campus safety, counseling and health, and recruitment and retention efforts. Participation in the CPI is voluntary, and there are 385 participating institutions as of 2020. For some campuses, administrators use the CPI to assess their support of QT initiatives, whereas others use the CPI as a recruitment tool to highlight a commitment to QT inclusion. Campus Pride also houses and sponsors the TPC, run by Genny Beemyn (2020), resident researcher and QT campus resource professional. The TPC serves as a hub of information where prospective students and institutions can view lists of campuses that have adopted a variety of trans-affirming policies. Such policies include QT-inclusive nondiscrimination policies, student health insurance coverage for transition care, gender-inclusive housing, chosen name policies, gender marker change policies, policies to denote pronouns on campus records, QT identity data collection in admissions, and women’s colleges with trans-inclusive admissions policies. One additional national inventory of QT resources is the policy and practice recommendation hub created by the Consortium. The Consortium is a professional development organization that supports QT campus resource professionals by providing opportunities for networking and resource sharing, developing promising practices, and advocating for and with QT college students and resource professionals to influence their respective campus cultures. The policy and practice recommendations developed by working groups from the Consortium (2016) currently include documents with promising practices for working with QT students of color, collection of QT admissions data on college applications, suggestions for supporting trans students, and supervision tips. These documents direct leaders in the QT resource field in student affairs to unite with common values and advocate for QT student needs through sharing best practices and benchmarking with peer institutions.

Institutional Policies Institutional policies have deep impact on not just the success of QT students but the basic dignity and worth of QT people in higher education. Below, we overview six policies that promote QT student success: nondiscrimination policies, housing, restrooms, student health policies, data collection, and student records. Although not an exhaustive list, these policies have symbolic and practical importance in promoting holistic wellness and success for QT students. Nondiscrimination policies. Nondiscrimination policies affirm that discrimination will not be tolerated, outline what qualifies as discrimination, and explain the consequences for violating such policies. Because there are no federal protections for QT people and a number of states without statewide protections based on sexual orientation and moreso for gender identity, institutional nondiscrimination policies may be the only protection and recourse for QT people. Yet, there is a large

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discrepancy across colleges and universities for including protections based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity inclusive of trans people. According to the TPC (Beemyn 2020), 1054 higher education institutions currently have nondiscrimination policies that include protecting gender identity and expression. QT students cite QT-inclusive nondiscrimination campus policies as sources of support for QT community members, signals for QT-affirming institutional values, and mechanisms for shifting and maintaining a less queerphobic and transphobic campus (Dirks 2012; Pitcher et al. 2018). Housing. Policies that govern access to facilities based on gender and/or sex have great impact on trans students because being provided with a safe living environment can positively promote belonging, safety, and ultimately success (Garvey et al. 2018d). Conversely, trans students who do not have access to gender-inclusive housing options face isolation and institutional genderism, rarely feel comfortable, and struggle academically (Pryor et al. 2016). According to the TPC, 272 higher education institutions provide gender-inclusive housing options (Beemyn 2020). Institutions approach these policies in different ways depending on campus culture and the organizational structure of residential living facilities. Gender-inclusive housing may entail an apartment-style arrangement where students share a common space but have personal bedrooms. In these situations, it is common for housemates to share a private single-user restroom, which mitigates the need for gender-inclusive restrooms on residence hall floors. Most residential colleges are known for halls where multiple students share one living space, where their beds reside in the same location. In these scenarios, gender-inclusive housing options may allow students of different genders to live together. Often, residential buildings will be designated as gender-inclusive where students of multiple genders will reside, thereby allowing students looking for a single-gender hall to opt out. Some universities that do not provide gender-inclusive options may provide a special accommodation for trans students to stay in a single or double room alone without a roommate. Trans students have reported preference for singles or apartment-style arrangements (Krum et al. 2013); however, being assigned to a single can result in trans students feeling isolated and separated from their peers, and often these rooms are more expensive (Pryor et al. 2016). Assessment of gender-inclusive housing options is critical, as student needs may shift over time, thereby causing the intent and the impact of the policy to no longer align (Garvey et al. 2018d). Restrooms. Gender-inclusive restrooms are important for college campuses that seek to create a safer and more affirming environment for trans students, who often report harassment and violence in gendered bathrooms (Pryor et al. 2016). For trans students specifically, having non-gendered, all-gender, or gender-inclusive restrooms makes campus safer and slightly more comfortable (Goldberg et al. 2019b). These restrooms often take the form of single-occupant restrooms with a toilet and sink behind a locking door. Unfortunately, many of these single-user restrooms have been and may continue to be gendered even though only one person uses them at a time. Therefore, campuses that seek to provide more trans-affirming facilities should convert all of these restrooms by changing the signage to genderinclusive or all-gender (Goldberg et al. 2019b). Single-user restrooms promote

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intersectional access because they provide safe facilities for trans people, caretakers, disabled people, and people who require a private space for health, medical, or religious reasons. Many existing campus buildings may contain multiple-occupancy restrooms, those with multiple stalls and/or urinals and shared sinks. Increasingly, institutions have been converting these restrooms to all-gender by changing the signage, educating the campus communities about why these facilities matter and, in some cases, changing the stall partitions to reach the floor and removing urinals when applicable. Every campus navigates these shifts differently, and the conversions usually rely on budget allocations and availabilities. Most residential halls have one gendered, multiple-occupancy restroom on each floor, and students and campus leaders who seek to convert these restrooms navigate this quandary in different ways. Some campuses, such as Oberlin College, ask students on each floor to designate the restroom as women’s, men’s, or all-gender with consensus. Some residential facilities may have a single-occupancy restroom on the first floor, open to the public, and many campus leaders may expect and ask students who are looking for a nongendered option to travel to the first floor every time. These restrictions are not ideal for many reasons, including the hassle of traveling for the facilities and the continual burden for trans people who seek a safe place to use the restroom in their living, academic, and/or workplace environments. Finally, institutions often create campus maps where community members can locate gender-inclusive restrooms in different buildings. Typically, QT resource professionals work with administrators and facilities staff to host these maps on websites or create mobile applications for ease of use. These maps may also contain other information, such as whether specific restrooms are accessible, contain infant changing tables, or provide menstrual products. Administrators that prioritize converting and creating gender-inclusive restrooms and facilities on their campuses demonstrate their values of equity and inclusion by taking fiscal and administrative action, which can transform campus climate (Rankin and Reason 2008). Student health policies. Much like their cisgender or heterosexual peers, QT students often rely on their campus student health services for medical appointments, preventive care, sexual healthcare, mental healthcare, and other health concerns. Unfortunately, many QT students encounter heterosexism and cissexism in healthcare spaces (Goldberg et al. 2019a; Singh et al. 2013), such as being misgendered, assumed to be heterosexual, or interacting with a provider who is not informed on how to treat or care for their needs based on their gender identities or the genders of their sexual partners. Some trans students may seek gender transition care while in college, and 112 institutions cover hormone therapy in their student health plan, 89 of which also cover some gender-affirming surgeries (Beemyn 2020). These coverages are important for students who seek what are often life-saving medical interventions in order to mitigate dysphoria and live authentically (Goldberg et al. 2019b). Data collection. With the absence of federal and state-level data collection for QT students, institutional data collection is especially critical. Institutional data collection enables administrators to make evidence-based decisions for retention policies

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and initiatives at colleges and universities because these data provide insights into student outcome trends (Garvey 2020). Data illuminate specific campus environments and high-impact educational practices that promote retention (Kuh 2008), and they highlight disparities in retention within and across student populations. Resource allocation and policy (re)formation are driven by data-informed decision-making, and the intentional exclusion of QT students from institutional data collection systematically removes administrator responsibility from serving these students. Higher education institutions that receive federal funding are required to report student race and sex data to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) through the Department of Education. Unfortunately, the only reportable gender categories are men or women, thus conflating sex with gender (Garvey et al. 2019c). Further, institutions report legal sex, which misrepresents many trans students who are nonbinary, agender, or those who have not changed their sex markers on legal identification documents. When institutions cannot confirm a student’s gender because they have not collected it through a mandatory question on the admissions application, the institution reports these individuals to IPEDS as either men or women, based on the majority of the institution’s population. These practices are highly problematic for collecting accurate data, erasing and misgendering trans students. One missed opportunity for QT student data collection is the absence of sexual orientation or gender identity questions on the Common Application, which prospective students use to apply to more than 800 higher education institutions worldwide. In response, Elmhurst College (2012) and the University of Iowa (Hoover 2012) became the first private and public institutions, respectively, to begin collecting students’ QT identifiers on their admissions applications. According to the TPC, approximately 29 other institutions and state school systems collect these data in some form (Beemyn 2020). These optional questions provide an opportunity for QT students to self-identify and be counted among their campus communities. Though many students do not answer these questions, potentially because they have yet to disclose their identities to themselves or family or worry about it affecting their admission to university, these data make it possible for researchers and practitioners to strengthen their understanding of QT college student success. Unfortunately, these data are not often shared with QT campus resource professionals, which prevent them from providing outreach to or assessing the experiences of the QT students they serve. Student records. Institutional records should provide options for students to report their sexual orientation, chosen name, pronouns, and gender identity, because these student records are often tied to class rosters, alumnx communications, and identity- and community-specific campus initiatives. Institutional data, whether collected through admissions or federal reporting, enables administrators to connect students with resources and track student success (Rankin and Garvey 2015) and promote QT alumnx engagement (Garvey and Drezner 2016). Unfortunately, these mechanisms are not available for QT students at most colleges or universities, which in turn create negative consequences for building community, sharing resources, and

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examining differences or trends in retention across sexual and gender identities (Garvey 2020). According to the TPC, 260 institutions have begun collecting and displaying data for students who use chosen or preferred names (Beemyn 2020). These policies directly benefit trans students, many of whom may shift their names to align with their true selves. It is challenging, expensive, bureaucratic, or even impossible to change names legally, and access depends on the state where the student lives. Aligning federal, state, and other legal identifications, such as birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, and/or passports, is time-intensive, expensive, and complicated depending on state and federal guidelines. Additionally, many trans students do not wish to legally change their names, and international or undocumented students may not have that option. Therefore, it is important for higher education institutions to provide ways for students to be able to go by their chosen names, rather than defaulting to legal names (Goldberg et al. 2019b). Chosen names should appear everywhere instead of legal names, except where it is not possible, such as employment forms or financial documents. Critical places where chosen names should appear include course rosters, advising records, housing lists, diplomas, and campus identification cards. Trans students are not the only ones who benefit from these policies; international students frequently anglicize their names, and many students go by nicknames, shortened versions of their names, or their middle names. However, it is important for campus leaders to take the initiative to learn to pronounce non-anglicized names and empower international students by providing a safer space for them to go by their given name if they prefer. Currently, only 42 campuses collect pronouns and list them alongside student names on course rosters. According to the TPC, 60 colleges allow students to adjust or update their gender marker on campus records without evidence of medical intervention or transition (Beemyn 2020), thereby allowing trans students to transition and utilize the appropriate gendered resources, as needed. For example, if a trans woman student can update her gender marker, she should be able to live in women’s residential facilities, join a sorority, be eligible for women’s scholarships, and compete on women’s teams.

Institutional Contexts Although progressive and inclusive institutional policies are paramount to fostering QT student success, the uniqueness across and within institutional types requires a nuanced understanding of how various college and university contexts shape QT student success. In the following section, we overview single-gender institutions, learning communities and themed housing, athletics, and fraternity and sorority life as such contexts that have pivotal influence on QT student experiences and success. Single-gender institutions. Women’s colleges, historically restricted to student assigned female at birth, have begun to slowly shift their admission policies and institutional protections to include trans women, intersex, agender, and nonbinary students (Farmer et al. 2019; Nanney and Brunsma 2017; Weber 2016). Though

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some QT youth are publicly coming out at younger ages than ever before (GLSEN 2019), students navigate and question their sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions in college (Beemyn and Rankin 2011). Therefore, many trans feminine, nonbinary, agender, or trans woman students who are not out or, in some cases, who have not changed their legal identifications to denote their sex as female (Weber 2016) will be denied admission from the start. Adopting trans misogynist (Serano 2007) understandings of gender, women’s colleges have been more likely to allow recently transitioned trans men or nonbinary students who were assigned female at birth to be admitted and/or to continue to graduation than to admit trans feminine or trans women students who were assigned male at birth (Weber 2016). Trans- and gender-expansive students at women’s colleges report high rates of genderism (Bilodeau 2009), trans misogyny (Serano 2007; Jourian 2015), compulsory heterogenderism (Nicolazzo 2017), and monosexism (Dolan 2013). These oppressive structures lead to feelings of institutional betrayal (Smith and Freyd 2014) and administrative violence (Farmer et al. 2019; Spade 2011). According to the TPC, 20 women’s colleges have adopted formal policies that include some trans students, though three specifically ban trans men from continuing as students at the university if they are out (Beemyn 2020). Most (but not all) institutions that are specifically men’s colleges have since converted to include all genders. Morehouse College will begin admitting trans men starting in 2020 (Beemyn 2020). Nonbinary students are allowed to continue, but if a student comes out as a trans woman while matriculated, they will not be allowed to continue to graduation. Learning communities and themed housing. Living-learning communities provide residential options for college students to build intentional space to live together and commit to cocurricular learning together. Student engagement with livinglearning (L/L) residential environments has been proven to be linked with improved academic performance, stronger persistence rates, higher likelihood of degree attainment, gains in intellectual development, and increased informal faculty interactions (Inkelas and Soldner 2011). Learning communities and themed housing are designed to foster a sense of community and belonging for their residents (Fink and Hummel 2015). Underrepresented students can find identity-based residential communities to be spaces of respite from minority stress and facilitate a feeling of connection to their broader campus community (Quaye et al. 2009). QT students also benefit from QT-themed L/L residential communities, especially when gender-inclusive housing is not an option otherwise (Garvey et al. 2018d). This space, however, may be challenging for students who are not out to their families or who do not feel safe being out on campus. Therefore, some QT students may need to conceal their identities with visiting family members or ask QT-themed housing spaces to shift the narrative during family visit weekends. Athletics. Many QT student athletes face heterosexism and cissexism in sports, including anything from homophobic comments to being barred from competing based on assigned sex or gender identity. Furthermore, the cost of college intramural and club athletics may exclude students from participating, creating disparities based on social class privileges that are further exacerbated given financial contexts for QT

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students. According to the TPC, 19 institutions have a trans-inclusive intramural athletics policy (Beemyn 2020). The NCAA (2011) adopted a policy and best practice recommendations for including trans athletes on college teams. Specifically, the NCAA does not require that student athletes legally change their sex markers or medically transition in order to play on a team that matches their identity. NCAA policy allows trans feminine or trans women students to undergo 1 year of hormone therapy in order to play on a women’s team. Trans men or nonbinary students can compete on women’s teams as long as they do not start hormone therapy, and if they do, they are eligible for men’s teams. These policies are not ideal, as they rely on students to medically transition in order to compete on a team that aligns with their gender. Trans and nonbinary athletes and gym attendees face binarist resources and often report avoiding the use of restrooms or locker rooms in order to avoid harassment or violence. Therefore, some institutions have created policies to create gender-inclusive locker rooms, either by building or allocating single-user shower and restroom facilities or by converting multiple-user locker rooms to be open to anyone regardless of gender. Similar to gender-inclusive restrooms, the conversion or creation of gender-inclusive locker rooms requires fiscal and administrative action, which demonstrates that institutional values of equity are worthy of campus resources, catalyzing institutional change and improved campus climate for trans students (Rankin and Reason 2008). Fraternity and sorority life. Fraternities and sororities are gendered organizations designated by Greek letters with chapters on many campuses, creating a network of brothers and sisters. Historically created by and for white, affluent, cisgender, heterosexual individuals to curate communities that centered common values, many of these organizations have been enmeshed with social class privilege, exclusivity, cisheteronormativity, patriarchy, white supremacy, and compulsory heterogenderism (Stone and Gorga 2014). Historically Black colleges and universities founded Black organizations, known as the Divine Nine, which carry rich history, culture, and strong familial bonds. Additionally, other cultural groups have created fraternities and sororities, including Latinx, Native, and Asian organizations. Unfortunately, cisheteronormativity is still present in many of these organizations, creating an exclusionary environment for many QT students. However, a number of QT students seek community in fraternities and sororities (Rankin et al. 2013), reporting mixed experiences (Yeung et al. 2006). Recently, some fraternities and sororities have been founded specifically with QTinclusive missions and values, such as Gamma Rho Lambda, Lambda Delta Lambda, Phi Tau Mu, and Delta Lambda Pi (Fielding and Pettitt 2008). Historically, QT students have founded other Greek letter organizations that have since been absorbed under other existing chapters (e.g., Alpha Lambda Tau has been dissolved and has mostly been affiliated with Tau Kappa Epsilon; Fielding and Pettitt 2008). These organizations either welcome QT students among their cisgender and heterosexual members or specifically seek to form QT communities where QT students are affirmed and centered in their policies and membership details. For example, Sigma Phi Beta policy explicitly includes and centers QT affirmation and empowerment in

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their mission and values statements (Fielding and Pettitt 2008). Although these organizations intend to create more QT-inclusive spaces, they are not widely available, not well-resourced, and not often recognized by Interfraternity Council or the National Panhellenic Conference. These small QT fraternity and sorority chapters lack large networks for mentorship and structural support and are often marginalized by mainstream organizations.

Society The politicization of QT students in federal and state governments has left these students largely ignored in research and policy reform, which is particularly troubling given the tumultuous current political climate for QT people in the USA. There is a moral imperative to center QT student experiences in education research given the hostile national and local climates for these students. The substance and tone of exclusion from the current presidential administration have called into question the status and rights of QT students, creating polarizing and contentious debates about student success and access in education (Rogers et al. 2017). The negative political rhetoric has shaped the consciousness and well-being of QT students locally and nationally, and if such concerns continue to grow, the hostility toward QT students may affect their success. The pervasive queerphobia and transphobia may lead QT students to feel devalued and unwelcome in educational environments. From oppressive legislation at the federal level to contentious Supreme Court cases debating the dignity and worth of QT people, these societal factors must be acknowledged when discussing success among QT students. In this section, we first overview minority stress theory as an overarching framework and then discuss nondiscrimination and federal policies, violence, and sexual stigma as influential societal contexts for QT student success.

Minority Stress Theory Although societal factors may likely not have a direct impact on QT student success in higher education, there are ancillary impacts of a perpetually oppressive society against QT people. QT students encounter queerphobia and transphobia and the impact that stems that stem from these forms of oppression. Intertwined with these experiences, QT students of color also experience racism, disabled QT students face ableism, and classism confronts poor QT students. One way of understanding how systemic forms of oppression impact people throughout their lives is through the frame of minority stress theory (Meyer 2003, 2015), which considers how external, interpersonal, and internalized stressors affect persistence and resilience. For QT students, external distal stressors include discrimination, rejection, victimization, queerphobia, misgendering, and structural binarism. These external stressors manifest from an oppressive environment, whether it be broader society, the geographic region, the campus climate, or even specific areas of campus such as

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residence halls or academic departments. Internal proximal stressors include concealment of identity or (re)closeting, expectations of rejection, and internalized queerphobia or transphobia. Minority stress theory argues that while these proximal stressors are unique in their own right, the external environment’s distal stressors strongly influence the anticipation and internalization of proximal stressors. Therefore, understanding and addressing distal stressors and systemic oppression is an important first step in ensuring that QT students can thrive in higher education and throughout their lifetimes. Although trans students are more visible in society and on campuses as time progresses, they still encounter ignorance, stigma, and discrimination when navigating their identities, which perpetuates overall oppressive perceptions and experiences in society broadly. While experiencing direct harassment on individual and human levels, agender and nonbinary students in particular encounter discrimination on the institutional level through binarism and cisnormativity, which limits their ability to succeed and persist (Bilodeau 2009; Nicolazzo 2016). Since agender and nonbinary people may identify both as trans and also as outside of the widely normed gender binary in US white society, they have unique experiences of oppression that impact their collegiate experiences, including cisnormativity (Simmons and White 2014), compulsory heterogenderism (Nicolazzo 2017), institutional cisgenderism (Seelman 2014), and binarism. Examples of the oppressive ways that the gender binary and binarism play out include assuming all college students (a) can be separated by the gender binary in facilities such as housing, restrooms, and locker rooms and (b) can be segregated by gender in equitable and safe ways on athletic teams (Beemyn 2015). Other examples include not offering ways for trans students to denote their affirming name and pronouns on records and forms (Beemyn 2015) or not providing affirming counseling and healthcare (Beemyn 2015; Linley and Kilgo 2018).

Nondiscrimination Many legislative actions can contribute to QT student minority stress. Federal policies are rolling back sex-based discrimination protections to exclude gender identity, thereby leaving trans people especially vulnerable to exclusion from basic needs, such as access to education, healthcare, and housing. Even when QT students are not explicitly affected by these policies, witnessing the federal dehumanization of QT identities compounds external and internalized minority stress. Regardless, we expand this discussion to center trans students, unhoused QT students, and undocumented QT students, who are highly underrepresented and already face many barriers to student success. Title IX. The evolution of Title IX is emblematic of the shifting political climate and its influence on QT student retention. Title IX of the Educational Amendment Act of 1972 is a federal law that “protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.” The applicability of Title IX for QT students has changed drastically in recent years,

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guided by different political motivations within Obama and Trump’s presidential administrations. In 2010, during Obama’s presidential administration, the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (DOE OCR 2010) clarified the scope of Title IX and gender-based harassment in a dear colleague letter, expanding protections to QT students for sex discrimination. In a follow-up 2016 Dear Colleague letter issued jointly by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and DOE, the administration explicitly stated Title IX’s role in protections for trans students, noting that “A school’s Title IX obligation to ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of sex requires schools to provide transgender students equal access to educational programs and activities” (DOE OCR 2016, p. 2). Administrators noted that their interpretations of Title IX regarding gender identity are “consistent with courts’ and other agencies’ interpretation of Federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination” (p. 2). The 2016 election marked a shift in Title IX interpretations governed by a withdrawal of protections previously articulated for QT students. In 2017, the DOE and DOJ withdrew the documents clarifying gender identity and Title IX issued by the Obama administration, rescinding all protections for QT students. Trump’s administration clarified its stance on Title IX in 2018, with a Department of Education spokesperson stating unequivocally that “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity” (Holden 2018). Secretary of Education Devos and the DOE finalized their regulations for Title IX in 2020, further disrupting protections for QT students, as well as survivors of sexual assault on college campuses. These new regulations limit the definition of sex as a biological construct, citing Title VII prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex: “The appropriate construction of the word ‘sex’ does not extend to a person’s sexual orientation or transgender status. . .[and] discrimination based on transgender status does not constitute sex stereotyping” (DOE OCR 2020, pp. 556–557). However, in June 2020, the US Supreme Court made a landmark decision regarding Title VII and nondiscrimination, contradicting recent changes to Title IX. Evolving federal policies. In 1964, during the civil rights movement and in the wake of racial tensions and anti-Blackness, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was passed to outlaw discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in schools, employment, and public accommodations. New regulations have clarified the definition of sex relative to nondiscrimination legislation and Title VII. In June 2020, the US Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes employment discrimination protections based on gender identity or sexual orientation. In the 6–3 majority ruling, Gorsuch wrote for the Court that “We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law” (Bostock v. Clayton County 2020, p. 1). The US Supreme Court’s decision to include QT people in nondiscrimination legislation on the basis of sex will likely have rippling effects on other federal sex-based legislation in education, employment, and housing. We extend our deepest gratitude to the trans and Black queer women lawyers who led the legislative charge for the recent Title VII decision.

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Additionally, the Trump administration worked to redefine sex discrimination to exclude trans people. In early June 2020, the administration removed such protections from the Department of Health and Human Services, allowing medical providers to refuse trans patients care and deny them treatments that may be linked to sex or gender (i.e., ovarian cancer or hysterectomy procedures). This change limited the definition of sex-based discrimination in section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act to exclude discrimination of the basis of gender or sexual identity, making it unclear if this will affect insurance coverage for QT people (Simmons-Duffin 2020). Days later, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced an anticipated change in accommodation rules for single-sex homeless shelters, allowing these shelters to deny access to unhoused trans populations seeking services. It is no coincidence that these reversals were announced during Pride Month on the 4-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre, where 49 people were killed and over 50 were injured, almost all of which were QT people of color. As QT students attempt to access medical care or seek shelter when they experience homelessness, they face federal dehumanization and discrimination, adding more minority stressors to their already heavy burdens. However, the US Supreme Court’s ruling regarding Title VII nondiscrimination contradicts these directives from the Trump administration, thereby contesting the legality of these changes. The US Supreme Court is also currently debating the viability of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which grants access to work permits for undocumented people who meet very specific criteria (Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California 2019). Undocumented students, many of them undocuqueer and undocutrans, have demanded a pathway to citizenship that is not based in exceptionalism, including protections for their parents and family members, decriminalizing border crossings, and abolishing the border entirely. These US Supreme Court decisions will transform the landscape of nondiscrimination in education and employment.

Violence QT people experience state-sanctioned violence at the hands of on-campus or offcampus police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, community vigilantes, the prison industrial complex, immigration detention centers, and youth carceral systems. Additionally, QT people face interpersonal hate violence, including mass shootings and murder epidemics. These high rates of violence have existed throughout history, and we believe that these will not end until queerphobia and transphobia end, police and prisons are defunded and abolished, education and social services are refunded, and racism ends. Hate and state-sanctioned violence. Police have been known to protect and serve a particularly privileged portion of the population, namely, white, heterosexual, cisgender, non-disabled, and documented people. QT people, especially QT people of color, QT people with disabilities, and undocuqueer and undocutrans

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communities, experience extremely high rates of police violence and are less likely to call the police when they are victims of a crime (James et al. 2016). When a large number of Black people were being consistently lynched by police, three Black women, two of whom are openly queer, started the Black Lives Matter movement to re-center and address Black lives lost to police and other state-sanctioned violence. It is important to name that this movement has always included and centered Black QT lives, founded by Black queer women and allies, and solidarity is a critical tool for ending anti-Blackness, racism, queerphobia, and transphobia. Gendered prisons and immigration detention centers often force trans people to be incarcerated based on assigned sex at birth rather than their gender identities, putting them at extremely high risk for violence from prison mates and guards. Further, QT people are often denied life-saving transition care or medications while incarcerated (James et al. 2016). These facts, while disheartening, are not surprising since police and state violence against QT people is nothing new. QT people, predominantly trans women of color and sex workers, have been highlighting the realities of and fighting back against police brutality since the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot in 1966 and the Stonewall rebellion in 1969. QT people also experience hate violence in the USA and worldwide. On June 12, 2016, the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in an Orlando QT bar directly targeted people of color who were dancing and enjoying “Latin night.” In addition to the fact that many of the victims and survivors were college students, this massacre had a lasting impact on QT people nationally, instilling fear for QT people of color, especially Black and Latinx QT people, who were targeted. Additionally, the American Medical Association (AMA 2019) declared an antitrans violence epidemic in 2019, noting the high number of murders, especially of Black trans women, in the USA and worldwide. At least 26 trans people were murdered in the USA in 2019, 91% of whom were Black women (Human Rights Campaign 2019). The AMA also noted that the high number of trans people killed is likely extremely underreported due to stigma and inadequate data collection (AMA 2019). Campuses and communities observe International Trans Day of Remembrance annually on November 20 to name and mourn trans people lost to violence. These policing and carceral systems may seem largely societal, yet they permeate higher education in multiple ways. Most institutions of higher education have campus police forces, work and give funds to local police forces, and take disciplinary actions against students through conduct channels. The presence of police, increased militarization in higher education, and campus administrators’ compliance with ICE and CBP create dangerous environments for college students, especially undocuqueer, undocutrans, and QT students of color. Further, formerly incarcerated people and undocumented people face numerous barriers to accessing education and employment because of their experiences with incarceration and the ways their identities are criminalized. Campus leaders that commit to restorative practices can learn from the harm QT people have experienced from policing and carceral systems and listen to QT abolitionist leaders who offer just solutions to repair communities rather than punish those who perpetrate harm.

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Intimate partner violence and sexual violence. Often, intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual violence are considered “women’s issues,” or recognized as a form of patriarchal power and control (Johnson 2008). However, rarely do researchers recognize that heterosexism, cissexism, and binarism are forms of patriarchal violence, which should not only include QT people in IPV discourse but also create new lenses of understanding the phenomenon of patriarchal violence (Cook-Daniels 2015). In fact, QT people experience higher rates of sexual violence and IPV than their cisgender or heterosexual peers, thereby making this an important experience to study, understand, and mitigate (Guadalupe-Diaz 2019; Langenderfer-Magruder et al. 2016; Messinger 2017). These experiences are major sources of stress for QT students and may negatively impact students’ persistence and graduation rates (Garvey et al. 2017a). Further, students who experience sexual violence or IPV victimization are not likely to report their experiences to campus officials or local police, because they do not think their experience is serious enough or they do not trust authorities to take them seriously (Cantor et al. 2020). Therefore, higher education leaders must enact systemic change that demonstrates that administrators believe survivors, care deeply about preventing future acts of IPV and sexual violence, and are well-suited to serve and support survivors on their campuses. QT people experience extremely high rates of IPV in their lifetimes. The 2015 US Transgender Survey (USTS; James et al. 2016) collected data from 27,715 trans people and found that 54% of participants reported having experienced IPV in their lifetimes and 35% reported experiencing physical violence. More specifically, 24% of participants reported experiencing severe physical violence, reflecting higher rates of severe physical IPV victimization among trans people than that of the total US population (18%; James et al. 2016). Within higher education, QT students also have higher rates of victimization than their cisgender and heterosexual peers (Cantor et al. 2020). According to a campus climate survey on sexual assault conducted by the Association of American Universities (AAU), 10% of college students who had been in a partnered relationship experienced IPV. Rates among QT students were much higher than overall rates, with 22% of trans students, 11% of gay or lesbian students, 17% of bisexual students, and 16% of asexual or questioning students with partners reporting IPV. QT people also experience higher rates of sexual violence victimization than their cisgender and/or heterosexual peers (Langenderfer-Magruder et al. 2016; James et al. 2016), and QT college students experience this victimization on campuses as well (Cantor et al. 2020). According to the AAU survey, QT students had higher prevalence rates of nonconsensual sexual contact than cisgender heterosexual students. Compared to 12% of heterosexual students; 26% of bisexual students; 19% of asexual, queer, and questioning students; and 15% of gay or lesbian students reported having experienced nonconsensual sexual contact. Among undergraduate students, 23% of trans, gender queer, and nonbinary students reported this type of victimization, similar to the rate of nonconsensual sexual contact for cisgender women (26%) but much higher than the rate among cisgender men (7%). There is no acceptable number of students experiencing sexual violence until all students and subpopulations experience no sexual violence. However, we present these statistics

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to demonstrate disparities in nonconsensual sexual contact among QT students and recognize that efforts to serve QT students will benefit all students.

Sexual Stigma In addition to discrimination and gender-based violence, QT students face sexual stigma as external stressors. In this section, we overview the sexual stigma of the pathologization of QT identities; gatekeeping for trans students to access transition care; and HIV prevalence, prevention, and testing. When institutional leaders commit to understanding these sources and impact of these stressors on QT students, they can mitigate negative outcomes by adopting affirming healthcare policies and protocols that benefit all students. QT pathologized identities. QT identities have been widely pathologized throughout the Western and colonized worlds. In the US, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has labeled QT identities, in various forms, as disorders or at-risk behaviors. Specifically for LGBQ+ individuals, homosexuality was listed as a disorder until 1974 in the DSM-II (Drescher 2015), and electric shock, genital mutilation, or conversion therapies have been considered “treatment.” The DSM-5 uses disorders of sex development to refer to intersex individuals’ experiences, which is often used to coerce parents to make decisions to force their newborn, young, or otherwise underage child’s body to conform to a medically defined sex binary without the intersex person’s consent. This often takes the form of multiple medical procedures that can cause physical pain, reduce bodily sensitivity or reproductive ability, and produce shame for the intersex young person who may internalize that something is “wrong” with their body and/or gender. For trans people, transsexualism was listed starting in 1980 in the DSM-III, until later replaced by the gender identity disorder in 1994 in the DSM-IV, and is now listed as gender dysphoria since the release of the DSM-5 in 2013 (Drescher 2010). This pattern of pathology has created systemic harm to QT people and created a medical system rooted in gatekeeping or controlling access to affirming care for QT people who seek transition services (Cavanaugh et al. 2016; Lev 2009). Medical providers typically follow one of two popular mechanisms in order to treat trans people seeking transition care: the WPATH Standards of Care or the informed consent model. The World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) has compiled the Standards of Care for physicians, therapists, and all medical providers to follow when treating trans patients. These guidelines emphasize the role of mental health providers to diagnose gender dysphoria and assess a trans client’s readiness to pursue medical transition. Now in its seventh iteration, the Standards of Care have consistently included a wait period for patients to explore their interest in transition, sometimes asking them to live “full time” in their gender without any medical intervention (WPATH 2012). This can create safety hazards, especially for binary trans people who seek to “pass” in a different gender but cannot without the medical interventions they seek (Cavanaugh et al. 2016). After the mental health professional deems the patient ready for medical transition care,

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they must write a letter on behalf of the patient to an endocrinologist, primary care practitioner, surgeon, or other medical provider (WPATH 2012). These letters may also help the patient gain access to insurance coverage for their care. Given that many trans people see transition opportunities as life-saving procedures, this process has been widely understood by trans communities as medical gatekeeping (Lev 2009). Another model that has been widely used is the informed consent protocol. The informed consent model gives physicians the opportunity to review all known and potential risks involved in transition care with the trans patient. This can be empowering for the patient, giving them the knowledge and autonomy in order to make the best decision for themselves (Cavanaugh et al. 2016). Because there are many unknown medical factors with regard to hormone therapy, when patients consent as adults to assuming risks, they are often stating that their mental health and survival rely on access to medical transition because of dysphoria. Many US colleges and universities practice either the informed consent model or follow the WPATH Standards of Care when providing transition care to trans students. However, there is often a lack of transparency in protocol, which can be disempowering and confusing for trans students. Institutions should create more trans-affirming health policies (Goldberg et al. 2019b), potentially adopting the informed consent model since it provides more autonomy to trans students, in order to mitigate student identity stress (Meyer 2003; Singh et al. 2013). HIV. Additionally, QT students experience stigma and stress in other health settings, such as sexual health discourse. According to HIV.gov, there are approximately 1,100,000 people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the US. Among those diagnosed, men who have sex with men (MSM), many of whom identify as QT, account for more than half of all new infections annually (HIV.gov n.d.). These cases of new infection are also most prevalent within Black and Latinx communities (Center for Disease Control [CDC] n.d.). Although HIV rates were statistically stable between 2012 and 2016, Black women are increasingly diagnosed with HIV (CDC n.d.). College students have an elevated risk for HIV because although they are often informed about HIV risks, their knowledge does not automatically translate to safer behavior. Students tend to be aware that HIV is an epidemic, is sexually transmitted, and can be prevented through the use of condoms. However, because of their lack of personal exposure to people with HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and their perception of being invincible to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), many college students feel disconnected from HIV (Marsiglia et al. 2013). College students also frequently underestimate their partner’s susceptibility to infection, often citing the fact that they “seem” STI-free as a reason for not using condoms (Renfro et al. 2020). Many students believe that condoms interrupt the sexual experience, inhibit pleasure, are unnecessary in the presence of birth control, and communicate lack of trust to their partner; as a result, college students have low rates of condom use (Marsiglia et al. 2013). Most US college campuses offer on-campus healthcare services as well as STI treatment or diagnoses (Habel et al. 2016). Despite these services, a number of campuses fail to offer condoms and safer sex tools, while even fewer offer rapid and express HIV and STI testing (Habel et al. 2016). Current

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approaches to combatting HIV beyond condom negotiation and abstinence include pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and treatment as prevention (TasP). The presence of PrEP, PEP, and TasP varies greatly by campus types, norms, and values (Habel et al. 2016). Queerphobia, transphobia, and the pathologization of QT identities are major multilevel stressors for QT college students who seek medical or mental healthcare on- or off-campus (Goldberg et al. 2019a; Singh et al. 2013). These stressors, such as discriminatory medical care, medical gatekeeping, anticipated rejection, and internalized stigma, can lead to concealment of identity, avoiding medical care, and negative health outcomes (Goldberg et al. 2019a; Meyer 2003; Shipherd et al. 2010; Singh et al. 2013).

Implications We present this chapter with a commitment to social change for QT students and an obligation to engage campus administrators, higher education researchers, and legislators as our primary audiences. In order to maximize the impact of our scholarship, we organize our implications to focus on five important dimensions of success for QT students: institutional change, data collection, data analysis, policy and legislation, and using frameworks.

Institutional Change Institutional reform must not be a one-time fix; rather, change is ongoing and requires considerable and sustainable effort to enact more socially just policies and practices. Doing so necessitates multiple stakeholders, including campus administrators, student affairs staff, faculty, students, and key influencers outside of institutions (e.g., state legislators, community nonprofit organization administrators, community organizers). Below, we provide implications that will not only benefit QT students but also positively transform campus for all constituents. • Perform an equity audit for all marginalized communities to assess current policies and practices and consider the impacts of campus climate and minority stress through intersectional lenses. Consider using the Trans Policy Clearinghouse (Beemyn 2020) and the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals (2016) resources for benchmarking and promising practices, and administer the Campus Pride Index in order to identify areas of improvement for QT students. • Support QT resource professionals and host space for a QT resource center. Once that is established, incorporate these staff in the institutional planning for sustainable impact. • Bolster any existing QT committees with administrative representation, support, and communications. For example, QT resource centers may develop a QT

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advisory board or a trans taskforce in which campus stakeholders meet periodically to discuss the state of affairs for QT students and work on projects to advance QT equity. Administrators should ask these entities for recommendations and input as they create a one-year, five-year, and ten-year strategic plan for campus equity. Embrace sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression as part of campus equity lexicon, whether that be in framing areas of growth for campus equity or in nondiscrimination statements and policies. Consider who is at the leadership table and what other leadership tables may already exist with underrepresented visionaries at the helm. Representation matters to underrepresented students and communities. Therefore, promote, hire, and recruit more QT people, QT people of color, and QT people with disabilities in campus positions. These QT people should be present in all areas of campus, not just QT resource professionals and faculty specializing in QT studies. Countless studies call for a need for equity training for all campus professionals. Often QT resource professionals will offer Safe Zone trainings for staff and faculty to learn more about QT identities, experiences, and allyship. It is critical that these trainings are intersectional in nature, considering and recognizing the unique needs of QT people of color, QT people with disabilities, and many other underrepresented QT people. Trainings are critical for faculty and campus professionals within the division of student affairs, and there are many factions of campus staff that are overlooked as major stakeholders. These include dining and cleaning staff, as they often interface often with students and have less access to training and resources than student affairs employees. Additionally, administrators must be trained in order to have a strong direction when making major campus decisions and planning for systemic change. Promote involvement among QT alumnx and increase QT representation on the board of trustees, in particular QT people of color, trans people, and young QT alumnx. Representation is both symbolic for QT campus community members and may also foster healing and reconciliation for QT alumnx who had negative or violent undergraduate student experiences. A thriving QT alumnx population may also promote involvement and philanthropy among QT graduates, which can have a positive impact on QT student services resource allocation (Garvey and Drezner 2016). However, philanthropy from QT alumnx should never serve as a substitute for institutional financial and resource support for promoting QT student success. Currently and historically, police and security officials have created significant harm to QT communities, communities of color, and people with disabilities. We recommend demilitarizing, defunding, and abolishing campus police and desisting relationships with local police forces. In their places, we advise creating systems of community accountability and restoration, community care, and spaces for healing.

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Data Collection More inclusive data collection is a critical intermediary step to promoting progressive institutional and societal change for QT students. Although including QT students in data collection will not bring about change on its own, Garvey (2020) noted that “the lack of empirical data about QT students renders these students invisible to most researchers and policymakers” (p. 435). The following recommendations are guided at institutional stakeholders (e.g., institutional researchers, student affairs assessment professionals) and policymakers at institutional, state, and federal levels. • Educate yourself on federal guidelines per Title IX, Title VII, FAFSA, and statelevel nondiscrimination legislation, and understand the role of these laws on QT data collection and student experiences broadly. Visit https://www.lgbtmap.org for more information about state and federal legislation concerning QT people in education and beyond. • Embrace activism as a critical component of data collection reform, recognizing power and influence of data on policy and professional practice. Recognize that intersectional activism is necessary because all oppression is interrelated (Crenshaw 1991), and to recognize queerphobia and transphobia requires a deep understanding of racism, classism, ableism, and all forms of oppression. • Use professional influence and power to advocate for systemic change in how gender and sexuality student data are collected. Develop partnerships between institutional administrators and government officials to uplift QT student data collection and use in legislation and institutional priorities. • Develop systems to account for students’ genders and sexualities, enabling students to update and modify their social identity classifications throughout their undergraduate experiences and beyond and providing options for more nuanced and fluid terms related to sexuality and gender (i.e., sexual identity, sexual behavior, sexual attraction, gender identity, gender performance, assigned birth sex) (Rankin and Garvey 2015). • Make data-informed decisions regarding institutional, state, and federal legislation concerning QT students. Use institutional data to advocate for more resources, improved campus/classroom climates, and enriching experiences among QT students. Listen to QT people and researchers when modifying or developing new data collection procedures. • Longitudinal data collection is critical for enacting positive change in higher education. Connect data collection processes to track QT student success. There should be a clear empirical connection between students’ high school education, admissions and matriculation into college, experiences throughout undergraduate education, and outcomes related to college completion. Develop techniques to enable survey participants to modify or update their identity classifications to reflect the evolving nature of sexuality and gender and develop adaptable coding schemes to support data classification and analyses.

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• Embrace flexibility and adaptability, recognizing that QT data collection requires frequent updating and cannot be achieved with one static reform. • Seek out all opportunities to use existing information as data to inform decisionmaking (e.g., intake forms, student involvement records, class rosters, student work applications). Use data responsibly and without harm to QT students, seeking to clarify what data align with institutional goals and supporting students.

Data Analysis Although progress has begun for institutional, national, and governmental data collection that includes QT people in education, there is scarce information for scholars, administrators, or policymakers on how to use data once QT students’ information is collected in large-scale surveys. We provide the following implications as a beginning point to advocate for more equity-driven analytical decisions in higher education research and practice. • Use tenets of critical and queer theories across the span of scholarship development. In order to embrace liberation as central to QT student success scholarship, you must employ critical perspectives within survey and item construction, data collection and coding, and manuscript development and dissemination. Explore quantitative criticalism as an approach to push normative and hegemonic research (Wells and Stage 2015). • When appropriate, utilize basic descriptive and inferential statistics to advocate for more equity-driven education policies and resource allocation for QT students. Particularly among legislators and administrators, having large-scale survey data that demonstrate trends can have a powerful impact on educational reform. Because there is such scarce QT student data, providing overviews using descriptive and inferential statistics can be a powerful tool for change. • Embrace the messiness of QT student data and adapt to challenging contexts for coding and analyzing demographic information. Data classification is political and can have great impact on analytical results. Understand that demographic coding schemes are not static, and you may have to develop multiple coding classifications within gender and sexuality variables depending on the student population of interest, research purpose and goals, and intended audience. Consult with QT scholars and experts who have analytical expertise for classifying and coding QT data. Be adaptive to rather than dismissive of the potentials within each data set. Do not use poor data as an excuse to exclude QT student variables in analyses (Garvey 2017). • Understand the problem with deficit-based approaches to education research. Scholars often compare QT students to their heterosexual cisgender peers in social, academic, and career outcomes to demonstrate disparities in achievement for QT students. Such analyses are often well intentioned to advocate for more resources or improved policies, but they place onus on QT students rather than acknowledging the detrimental impact of queerphobia and transphobia on QT

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student success. When QT students are compared to their heterosexual cisgender peers, it can have detrimental impact individually among students, institutionally in how administrators view QT students and broadly in society by needing to demonstrate disparities to prove worth. We acknowledge that comparative analyses are a common practice for educational reform. If you choose to perform between-group comparisons, we recommend contextualizing student outcome results with holistic perspectives to emphasize that the disparities and required solutions must be placed on institutions and society, not solely QT individuals themselves. • Learn about structural equation modeling (SEM; Schreiber et al. 2006) and bootstrap multiple mediation (Preacher and Hayes 2008) as effective analytic approaches for examining QT student success. Both techniques provide a complex structure to understand the relationship between multi-item measures like belonging and campus climate with direct outcomes like matriculation and graduation. There are three particular benefits with SEM and bootstrap multiple mediation for QT students in particular: (1) developing complex structures across influential factors, (2) smaller sample sizes required compared to regression and other analyses, and (3) the ability to examine QT students without a comparative sample of heterosexual cisgender students. • Avoid dummy variable coding (i.e., using white as the reference group when conducting research across racial identities). Doing so places analytical advantage on privileged groups and dilutes the impact of comparisons across groups. Instead, employ effect coding, which uses “average responses as a means for interpreting information” (Mayhew and Simonoff 2015, p. 170). • Be transparent about analytical decisions. Particularly when utilizing intersectionality or examining QT students across multiple identities, you may likely have to make difficult choices about which demographic variables to include and how many categories within each identity group depending on sample size and quality of data. Include a positionality statement, sharing how your social identities influenced your analytical decisions. Be open with the process and limitations of your scholarship so that readers may use your research with nuanced understanding.

Policy and Legislation The void of QT-affirming policies across sectors requires a lens that includes institutional, state, and federal reform. Some of the implications below are specific to individual stakeholders, whereas others are broad foundational insights that apply to all policymakers and legislators. These may not be germane to higher education; however, these recommendations matter to QT students and have significant impacts on their success in college. • Educate yourself about queer and trans oppression across all facets of society. Use knowledge to actively dismantle institutional and societal oppression to promote

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equity and thriving among QT people in education and beyond. Visit http://www. ustranssurvey.org/ and https://www.thetaskforce.org/ for more information about QT oppression societally. Embrace QT people as an important constituency in state and federal policy, and recognize how the historical exclusion of QT people in legislation has festered invisibility for QT people and unaccountability among public officials. Advocate for reform in federal data collection procedures and policies, and in particular institutional reporting for IPEDS and other data that misuse sex/gender. Look beyond current restrictive federal and institutional guidelines for data collection and replace with more inclusive processes (Garvey 2019; Garvey et al. 2019c). Consider how underrepresentation of QT people in political office affects policy inclusion and equity. Encourage QT people to run for local, state, and federal government positions to provide voice and representation across all sectors of public office. Advocate for state and federal legislation that provides free access to higher education. Education is a human right. Work to reform harmful and restrictive interpretations of Title IX to protect QT students, and expand other federal and state legislation to include protections for QT people. QT students experience all facets of life. In order to promote their success in higher education, more progressive policies must be passed to guarantee universal healthcare, protect against discrimination in work and education, defund and demilitarize police, provide pathways to citizenship and decriminalize immigration, increase gun control, and mandate paid family leave, among others.

Using Frameworks For decades, higher education scholars have employed conceptual and theoretical frameworks to understand the impact of college on student success and experiences, and nearly every one of these frameworks has either willingly or unknowingly excluded QT students from this body of work. As a field, it is shameful that QT students have not been welcomed into the lexicon of higher education frameworks, and this exclusion has great impact across policy (re)formation and resource (re)allocation. We offer the following implications for administrators, researchers, and legislators to embrace more inclusive student success frameworks. • Question historical and contemporary student success and college impact frameworks, particularly if they do not involve (or include) students’ social identities and institutional/societal systems of power and marginalization. • Modify existing student success and college impact frameworks to account for the experiences of QT students. Upon modifying, empirically test newly adapted frameworks to ensure empirical soundness and theoretical rigor.

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• Utilize intersectionality and other critical frameworks that attend to students’ multiple identities and multiple systems of dominance and marginalization. Center QT students of color; QT disabled students; first-generation QT students; asexual, agender, and nonbinary students; and other QT students who have multiple marginalized identities. • Frameworks that center people of color are critical for education equity and should be centered in all discussions of student success. Do not isolate QT identities without examining the intersection of students’ additional identities and experiences; to discount the complexity of students’ identities and lives is a disservice to all students. • Challenge scholars, administrators, and legislators who use frameworks that omit social identities and systems of power. Require more inclusive and socially just frameworks when collaborating with others, especially when important decisions will be made from results and interpretations. • For faculty who teach in higher education and student affairs masters and doctoral programs, require students to critically interrogate existing student success and college impact frameworks. Provide opportunities for students to study crossdisciplinary critical and post-structural frameworks to broaden frameworks studied and employed in higher education scholarship. • We call on administrators, faculty, and staff to make value-based decisions and to recognize power dynamics present in decision-making and policy-writing. Higher education institutions are not values-neutral. Centering the most marginalized communities’ needs is an important step toward true equity and liberation. We recommend applying intersectionality theory and critical race theory to practice.

Conclusion Throughout this chapter, we provided empirical insights into QT student success, guided by existing higher education frameworks to shape our insights. We structured our writing with intersectionality and queer theory, and we led with our own positionalities and lived experiences. The main body of our manuscript overviewed influential contexts relative to student success: identity development, finances, relationships and spaces, institutions, and society. Our chapter closed with key recommendations across four dimensions of QT student success: institutional change, data collection, policy and legislation, and using frameworks. As QT people ourselves, we are exhausted with the continual treatment of QT students as peripheral to higher education practice, scholarship, and policy. For too long we have witnessed a general disregard for centering (or including at all) QT students in student success practices, research, or legislation. We implore all who read our chapter to claim individual responsibility for transforming higher education for the betterment of QT students. In particular, we demand that college and university administrators, researchers, and legislators move toward action. Inclusion and progress initiatives must involve financial, public, collaborative, and enduring

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change if all QT students are to be afforded the circumstances to reach their fullest potential. Finally, we close with gratitude and solidarity with other QT administrators, scholars, policymakers, and students. Our QT communities are strengthened through a tightly knit fabric of kinship, and all we have achieved (and will achieve) in higher education comes from uplifting each other. We extend deep thanks for the blessings and gifts that QT people have given us individually and to higher education and society broadly.

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Dr. Jason C. Garvey (he/him/his) is the Friedman-Hipps Green and Gold Professor of Education and Program Coordinator for the Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration program at the University of Vermont. His research examines student affairs and college classroom contexts primarily using quantitative methods, with particular attention to uplifting queer and trans collegians. Jay identifies as a quantitative queer, navigating the borders of post-positivistic survey design/quantitative methods and critical/post-structural queerness. His approach to scholarship and professional practice is rooted in positive affect and love, recognizing the grounding and uplifting role of emotions and relationships in higher education. C. V. Dolan (they/them/their) is pursuing their PhD in the Educational Leadership and Policy studies program at the University of Vermont. Dolan’s research focuses on building power with nonbinary college students and cultivating a deeper understanding of their experiences of belonging, resilience, and minority stress. Prior to their doctoral studies, they completed their MEd in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration at the University of Vermont in 2013, followed by 6 years working as a QT resource professional in higher education. They adore and have learned so much from QT students and are grateful to serve and uplift QT students in their work.

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Strengthening Outcomes of Adult Students in Community Colleges Peter Riley Bahr, Claire A. Boeck, and Phyllis A. Cummins

Contents Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Defining Adult Students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Age as an Imperfect Proxy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Subjective Sense of Adulthood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Adult Learners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Adult Students Cross-Classified as Nontraditional Students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Synthesizing a Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Operationalizing Adult Status . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Adult Students’ Participation in Postsecondary Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Enrollment in Higher Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Role of Community Colleges in Adult Undergraduate Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Adult Students as Diverse Learners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Differences Between Older and Younger Students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Improving Adult Community College Students’ Outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Previous Work on Classifying Community College Support Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Programs and Initiatives with Potential to Improve Adult Students’ Outcomes . . . . . . . . . . . Mapping Mechanisms onto Adult Characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Directions for Future Research and Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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P. R. Bahr (*) · C. A. Boeck Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA e-mail: [email protected] P. A. Cummins Scripps Gerontology Center, Miami University, Oxford, OH, USA © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 L. W. Perna (ed.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research 36, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-44007-7_3

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Abstract

Students who are over 24 years – older than the age deemed “traditional” for higher education – account for about one in every three students enrolled in community colleges. Unfortunately, their educational outcomes lag behind their younger peers. A greater understanding of what it means to be an adult student in higher education is a crucial step toward determining how postsecondary institutions, particularly community colleges, can improve adults’ experiences and chances of achieving their goals. With the overriding objective of providing guidance to stakeholders about how to strengthen adult students’ success and increase college completion, we draw from extant literature to develop a Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students (MCAS). We propose a corresponding set of measures to identify adult students in a community college’s student population and to differentiate the gradations of experience, responsibility, and subject sense of adulthood that constitute adult status. We review evidence on adult students’ participation in higher education, how their approaches to college tend to differ from younger students, and community college programs and initiatives that aim to improve adult students’ outcomes. Finally, we discuss the alignment of the programs and initiatives with adult students’ learning needs and with the dimensions of the MCAS. Keywords

Community college · Age · Adult students · Survey · Graduation · Completion · Success

Introduction The phrase new student or first-time student in postsecondary discourse often invokes an image of a young person, 18 or 19 years of age, recently graduated from high school, and heading off to college with few pressing responsibilities other than those associated with schooling itself. The reality, however, is that a sizeable fraction of undergraduate students in higher education are considerably older than 18 and have lives that differ markedly from their late-teen peers, shouldering numerous obligations and commitments while attending school. In fact, as of fall 2017, adults 25 years of age and older accounted for one-quarter of undergraduates enrolled in public postsecondary institutions and 27% of undergraduates across both public and private institutions (US Department of Education [ED] 2019). The question that one may be led to ask is whether the age of students matters for postsecondary institutions, particularly for the nation’s community colleges, which serve about three-fifths (58%) of students age 25 and older enrolled in public postsecondary institutions, who in turn make up 33% of students who attend community colleges (ED 2018). Does the age of students matter for the curriculum, instruction, programs, and services that are provided by these institutions?

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The answer depends at least in part on our understanding of what it means to arrive to college at a period of time in one’s life that is not immediately or shortly after high school, potentially with many nonacademic obligations and commitments that cannot be placed on hold while one is attending college. Indeed, in everyday conversation, the term adult connotes maturity, responsibility, and experience. However, the definition of adult students in education research frequently does not capture the dimensionality of adult status or the diverse paths that contribute to its development (Kasworm 2003c, 2018; Richardson and King 1998). Yet, states and individual institutions have a vested interest in increasing the attainment of adult students. Recognizing the importance of postsecondary education for economic vitality and individual opportunity, over 40 states have developed postsecondary attainment goals for their populations in general alignment with the Lumina Foundation’s goal that 60% of individuals ages 25–64 have a postsecondary certificate or degree or professional certification by 2025 (Lumina Foundation 2019). Achieving these goals will be nigh impossible without significant improvements in recruiting, retaining, supporting, and graduating students who are outside the pool of recent high school graduates, whether individuals who never attended college or those with some prior college education but no degree (Shapiro et al. 2019). Recruiting, retaining, and supporting adult students’ postsecondary completion outcomes would be more successful if the diversity of adults were taken into account. Adult students are a heterogeneous group and often need or benefit from program structures and support systems than differ from those offered by colleges and oriented toward younger students. The scarcity of programs that align with adults’ needs, motivations, and circumstances, and insufficient communication about those programs that are designed to foster adults' success, are significant barriers to adults’ participation in higher education (Cross 1981; Kasworm 2018). In this chapter, we take up the question of what it means to be an adult student in undergraduate higher education and the implications for community colleges, which serve a disproportionate share of these students. We begin with a critical review of definitions that researchers have applied in classifying and differentiating adult learners from other segments of the student population. Building on the strengths offered by these definitions and seeking to address their limitations, we propose the new Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students (MCAS), capturing the rich diversity found among adult students and countering the too-prevalent deficit perspective applied to them. The MCAS reflects three dimensions of adulthood that are relevant for advancing our understanding of adult students’ goals, needs, and outcomes: past experiences and acquired skills, current responsibilities, and subjective sense of adulthood. Informed by the three dimensions, we then propose a set of survey measures, response categories, and a response weighting scheme that community colleges can use to identify, better understand, and more effectively design supports for the adults in their student population. We follow the MCAS and survey measures with a discussion of adult students’ participation in postsecondary education, the diversity of their motivations for enrolling in college, the role that community colleges play in providing access to

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higher education for adult students, and how adult students’ enrollment patterns, learning, and outcomes frequently differ from those of younger students. We then identify programs and initiatives with promise to improve adult students’ outcomes and summarize research on these programs and initiatives. We conclude the chapter by discussing how the programs and initiatives can align with adult students’ learning needs and their prior experiences and skill development, responsibilities and life circumstances, and subjective sense of adulthood embodied in the MCAS, with the overarching goal of improving adult students’ progress and attainment. By highlighting the intersections between the strengths and needs frequently found among adult students and the programs and initiatives offered by community colleges, we seek to inform and advance the work of policymakers, community college administrators, practitioners, and educators to strengthen adult students’ outcomes, as well as to advance scholarly efforts to understand the mechanisms that promote adult students’ success. We recognize and thank the scholars who previously reviewed literature on how adult students are defined and the programs that can improve adult students’ academic outcomes (e.g., Bragg 2011; Donaldson and Townsend 2007; Karp 2011; Kasworm 2003c, 2018). This chapter is not intended to replicate prior reviews or to serve as a comprehensive review of all literature pertaining to adult students or adult learning theory. Our primary concern is how community colleges can improve outcomes for adult learners. Gaining a better understanding of adult learners is particularly important for community colleges, as adults who are returning to college are more likely to reenter postsecondary education through community colleges (Shapiro et al. 2019). We circumscribe our discussion to students participating in undergraduate education in community colleges, excluding from our discussion students enrolled in adult education or GED programs in community colleges. Occasionally, we draw on literature on adult students in 4-year undergraduate institutions, but we do so selectively and only insofar as it has the potential to inform our understanding of particular aspects of adult learners’ experiences that have not been well researched in the community college context.

Defining Adult Students The phrases adult student and older student, along with other similar phrases like nontraditional student, are to some degree ambiguous and unsatisfactory in the absence of concrete definitions. In this section, we elaborate the concept of adult students, addressing how they have been defined in the research literature, and what it means to be an adult student. This section has three parts: (1) a review of previous criteria used to define adult students, (2) our proposed Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students (MCAS), and (3) a proposed set of MCAS-based survey measures, response categories, and response weighting scheme by which institutions can gather information about the student populations that they serve in order to better enumerate and illuminate their adult students.

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We begin by discussing the limitations of chronological age alone as a marker of adulthood, followed by a review of research on subjective sense of adulthood to further illustrate the limitations of age. We then consider the conceptualization of adults as learners offered by Knowles et al. (2005) to illustrate how adults’ learning experiences and approaches differentiate them from younger students. We conclude our review of previous definitions applied to adult students with a critical discussion of adults cross-classified as nontraditional students, critiques of the concept of nontraditional, and efforts to reframe the concept of nontraditional. Finally, we introduce the proposed MCAS and the survey measures aligned with the MCAS.

Age as an Imperfect Proxy In research, policy, and practice, adult students often are defined by age alone, frequently as students who are 25 years of age or older when entering college as undergraduates (Kasworm 2010). While birthdate is a convenient and logical way to identify adult students as distinct from other students, age alone can mask the considerable diversity found among students grouped together in this manner. Indeed, the limited research on adult students has tended to oversimplify the concept of “older student,” treating all students above the age of 24 as “older” (e.g., Calcagno et al. 2007; Sorey and Duggan 2008; Weaver and Qi 2005). The homogenization of adult students in this manner fails to consider the marked differences in life circumstances found among students in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond. A more nuanced understanding of adult students is needed if postsecondary institutions are to serve them effectively. Recognizing age as an imperfect proxy, Kasworm (2003c) suggested that adult students be defined in terms of experiences and life circumstances, described as statuses, that inform unique motivations and goals for postsecondary participation and, in turn, distinguish adult students from their younger counterparts. She describes an adult student as “one who represents the status of age; the status of maturity and developmental complexity acquired through life responsibilities, perspectives, and financial independence; and the status of responsible and oftencompeting sets of adult roles reflecting work, family, community, and college student commitments” (2003b, p. 3, italics added). Kasworm (2018) recommended identifying adult students through the following four criteria: being 25 years of age or older; having family, employment, or civic responsibilities; having a discontinuous college enrollment record; and being independent from parents. Combining age with responsibilities, as suggested by Kasworm, attends to the circumstances, experiences, identities, and motivations that distinguish adult undergraduates from younger peers. We note, though, that the responsibilities that are the marker of adulthood also can be found among students under 25 years of age, demonstrating a weakness of relying on an arbitrary age threshold when identifying adult students. Kasworm’s recommendation to draw on information about life circumstances when identifying adult students, however, is supported by research implicating students’ role-based identities as a key factor in understanding their

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interaction with higher education (Kim et al. 2010). Kasworm’s focus on life circumstances also aligns with research demonstrating the growing diversity of experiences and roles found among individuals in their 20s (Arnett 2000; Settersten and Ray 2010). Over the last four decades, individuals in their 20s have been delaying roles and responsibilities traditionally considered to be markers of adulthood in Western countries, such as moving out of their parents’ home, marrying, and having children (Côté and Bynner 2008; Settersten and Ray 2010). That said, delays of adult responsibilities vary by race/ethnicity, gender, culture, immigration status, and socioeconomic status (Settersten and Ray 2010). Individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and those whose parents did not attend college (i.e., first-generation students) are more likely to be married or to have children at a younger age than are individuals from advantaged backgrounds (Osgood et al. 2005; Settersten and Ray 2010). Using a nationally representative dataset, Ho and Park (2019) found that continuing to live with or near parents was more common and valued by Southeast Asian, South Asians, and Hispanic 26-year-olds in the United States than it was by White, Black, and East Asians in the same age groups. National data from the 2008 Current Population Survey revealed that individuals of ages 18–34 who were born in the United States and whose parents were immigrants (i.e., second-generation immigrants) were less likely than first-generation or thirdgeneration immigrants to leave their parents’ home, marry, or have children, which are historically accepted markers of adulthood (Rumbaut and Komaie 2010). On the other hand, youth from Latinx, Filipino, and/or immigrant backgrounds may remain in their parents’ home to support or assist them, thus taking on adult responsibilities before turning 25 years of age (Fuligni and Pedersen 2002; Rumbaut and Komaie 2010). Therefore, the definition of adulthood should take cultural differences into account. Furthermore, the demonstrable variation in the age at which individuals assume adult roles by socioeconomic status, culture, and immigrant status complicates the use of age alone to determine who is an adult student, and it supports Kasworm’s (2003c, 2018) recommendations for defining adult students in a more nuanced manner.

Subjective Sense of Adulthood The degree to which individuals perceive themselves to be adults, referred to as subjective adulthood (Arnett 2003), is another consideration in defining adult status. Perceiving oneself as an adult could have stronger implications for behaviors and motivations than does age alone. For example, adults adopt roles and positions within community college classrooms consistent with assumed adult behaviors, such as mentoring younger students (Kasworm 2005; Levin 2007), being a leader in the classroom (Kasworm 2005), or holding themselves responsible for their own academic success (Katsiaficas et al. 2015). Supporting Kasworm’s (2003c) critique of age as the sole indicator of adulthood, Katsiaficas (2017, p. 398) found that, among ethnically diverse community college students, having multiple

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responsibilities was more frequently viewed as a marker of adulthood than was age (66% compared to 6%, respectively). Being an adult intersects with other social identities and statuses (Kasworm 2003c; Levin 2007), and those intersections have implications for how the status of adulthood is interpreted. Empirical findings demonstrate variation in how people define and reach markers of adulthood by race/ethnicity (Arnett 2003; Benson and Elder 2011; Ho and Park 2019), gender (Arnett 1997), and immigration background (Katsiaficas et al. 2015; Rumbaut and Komaie 2010). In a survey of a racially/ ethnically diverse students ages 18–29 years about criteria for reaching adulthood, taking responsibility for one’s own actions was the most commonly cited indicator (Arnett 2003). Yet, other reported markers differed across racial/ethnic groups, with African American (43%) and Latinx (50%) respondents being more likely than Asian American (35%) and White respondents (19%) to say that being employed full-time is necessary for being an adult (Arnett 2000, p. 67). Other evidence indicates that women are more likely than are men to assert that ability to manage a household is a mark of adulthood (Arnett 1997). First-generation immigrant college students have reported being propelled into adult roles before they are ready, indicating that they adopted adult responsibilities but did not feel like adults (Katsiaficas et al. 2015). Working-class individuals ages 24–34 years who believed that they missed or failed to maintain traditional markers of adulthood, such as being financially stable or having children, constructed other narratives to demonstrate transition to adulthood, such as going through a divorce or overcoming an addiction (Silva 2012). Reitzle (2007) astutely observed that the question of what role transitions constitute adulthood has shifted away from global conclusions concerning “What are the main ingredients of adulthood?” and toward “Which ones are for whom?” (p. 37). Perceptions of being an adult can fluctuate due to context and events. First- and second-generation immigrants ages 18–25 years who were enrolled in a community college noted that they were not treated like adults at home, yet they had to engage in adult behaviors in order to be successful in college, and they resented college personnel who did not treat them like adults (Katsiaficas et al. 2015). Similarly, undocumented individuals tend to adopt adult responsibilities early to help support their family, but their sense of working toward adulthood can be complicated by legal barriers to postsecondary education and pursuing their desired career. They sometimes are forced to work low-wage jobs in their late 20s and beyond, jobs that they associate with teenagers or high school dropouts, not adults who were successful in high school (Gonzales 2011). Major life events, such as loss of a loved one, can influence subjective adult status as well (Reitzle 2007). One could anticipate that other role transitions, such as reducing or leaving work to return to formal education, could influence a person’s perception of being an adult, though Reitzle (2007) did not find a significant relationship between changes in subjective adulthood and leaving employment to enroll in college. In sum, subjective sense of adulthood is complex and multifaceted and may be an important dimension of adult status among college students.

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Adult Learners Kasworm’s (2018) definition of adult students may be further informed by a consideration of what characterizes an adult learner specifically. Knowles et al. (2005, pp. 64–69) proposed six facets of adults as learners that differentiate them from younger learners: 1. “Need to know” – They need to know the value of what they are asked to learn. 2. “Learner’s self-concept” – They see themselves as autonomous and are accustomed to having an independent role in daily life and therefore may perceive being a learner as a dependent role, which can make the transition to the classroom difficult. 3. “The role of the learner’s [prior] experiences” – They have a wealth of experiences that are tied to their identities, habits, values, and ideas that can influence their learning process. 4. “Readiness to learn” – Adults’ responsibilities, roles, skills, and maturity influence their enthusiasm and preparedness to learn course content. 5. “Orientation to learning” – They are motivated to learn when material is applicable to real-life scenarios. 6. “Motivation” – Internal factors, like learning and improved self-esteem and quality of life, are more powerful motivators than are external factors, such as grades achieved. Consistent with Kasworm’s (2003c, 2018) definition, Knowles et al. (2005) draw attention to the fact that the experiences and goals of individuals define them as adult learners more so than does their age. Further, the characterization offered by Knowles et al. (2005) suggests that the rich experiences and grounded goals of adult students can inform both their learning preferences and their motivations to learn, which further distinguishes them from younger students. For instance, adult learners tend to prefer greater autonomy in their education and, therefore, can be motivated by an opportunity to be self-directed in their learning.

Adult Students Cross-Classified as Nontraditional Students Defining nontraditional. Adult students often are captured in other methods of classifying undergraduate students. For example, the phrase nontraditional students sometimes is used as a synonym for adult students in discourse about postsecondary education (Kim 2002; Kim et al. 2010; Langrehr et al. 2015). Bean and Metzner (1985) defined a nontraditional student as one who meets all of the three following criteria: 1. 25 years of age or older, and/or commutes to campus, and/or is enrolled part-time. 2. Less concerned with the social aspects of the college. 3. Primarily focused on a college’s academic programs and qualities.

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Other researchers have offered broader definitions of nontraditional, some facets of which are usually associated with age. Horn and Carroll (1996) defined nontraditional students as those with any of the following characteristics: (1) delayed enrollment in postsecondary education for some time after graduating from high school, (2) attended college part-time, (3) financially independent, (4) held full-time employment while attending college, (5) had dependents other than a spouse, (6) single parent, or (7) did not have a high school diploma. Drawing on these criteria, they assessed students’ degree of nontraditionality; individuals meeting one of the criteria were minimally nontraditional, two or three criteria moderately nontraditional, and four or more criteria highly nontraditional. These categories acknowledge that individuals’ experiences and characteristics have a cumulative effect on their educational motivations, goals, and behaviors. However, the broad definition of nontraditional students has been criticized because the students so classified actually are normative in higher education, especially in community colleges (Choy 2002; Levin 2007; Ma and Baum 2016; Soares 2013). Empirical studies of nontraditional students typically do not disaggregate students by age (Choy 2002; ED 2015; Horn and Carroll 1996), limiting the clarity that they can provide about the intersection of age with characteristics deemed nontraditional. One would expect that some of the facets of nontraditionality are correlated with age. For example, adult students may be caring for children, their own parents, or other dependents. Importantly, given their mature status and acquired skills, we may anticipate that the manner in which adult students manage nonacademic responsibilities (e.g., working full-time, having dependents) could affect their academic outcomes differently than the same nonacademic responsibilities carried by younger (less mature or less experienced) students. Unfortunately, the lack of specific analyses on the experiences and outcomes of adult community college students greatly limits our understanding of the barriers that they face, how they leverage their skills and pre-enrollment experiences to succeed in college, and the institutional strategies that can support their progress and success most effectively. Problematic assumptions of nontraditionality. A significant concern regarding Horn and Carroll’s (1996) definition and others like it, which Levin (2007) described as arising from the trait framework for understanding nontraditionality, is that they confound markers of nontraditionality (as they define nontraditional) with circumstances that vary with class and citizenship. The distinction between traditional and nontraditional may be more a matter of privilege than of normativity, especially considering that nontraditional students are a majority of the population served by community colleges. For instance, on one hand, financial limitations and associated family obligations prevent some students from attending college full-time and immediately after high school, leading them to be classified as nontraditional. On the other hand, being able to obtain a full-time job that pays enough to maintain financial independence – a marker of adult status and nontraditionality – is not within reach of every adult. Over four million people in the United States work parttime because they have not been able to find full-time work or because their

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employers have involuntarily reduced their hours (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020), and immigration laws prevent employment for undocumented individuals (Enriquez 2015). Horn and Carroll’s criteria for being financially independent implies that adults leave their family to support themselves, which, as discussed in the previous section, does not apply equally across cultures, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic classes (Côté and Bynner 2008; Fuligni and Pedersen 2002; Rumbaut and Komaie 2010; Settersten and Ray 2010; Silva 2012). To the extent that there is value in identifying nontraditional students, it is important that the criteria used not exclude people based on assumptions of cultural universality or universal privilege. A more troubling consequence of Horn and Carroll’s (1996) definition of nontraditional, which revolves around circumstances that compete with academic responsibilities or otherwise may hinder success in college, is a deficit view of nontraditional students (Levin 2007). A deficit view focuses on what individuals lack, ignores their strengths, and assigns responsibility for struggle or failure to individuals (Valencia 1997). To the extent that maturity intersects with nontraditionality, this deficit view is extended to adult students as well. Characterizing a group of students by their struggles can result in negative stereotypes (Richardson and King 1998). Deficit framing tends to perpetuate the practice of privileging one set of skills or qualities over others and ignores the assets held by marginalized populations (Yosso 2005). In this case, the deficit perspective emphasizes nontraditional students’ limitations rather than their potential contributions to college, to other students, and to the academic experience more broadly (Keith et al. 2006; Richardson and King 1998). Although researchers have developed conceptual models that acknowledge the strengths that community college students bring to and develop in higher education (e.g., Laanan and Jain 2017; Moser 2013), those models were not developed for or applied to adult students in particular. In addition to deficit framing, the widespread practice of labeling individuals as “nontraditional” is rooted in the problematic assumption that their needs are less important because they are not the target audience for whom postsecondary education was designed. A circumspect and balanced view of the subject recognizes that all students have strengths and limitations, though younger and older students tend to differ from one another in the nature of their strengths and limitations. It happens that postsecondary institutions are adapted more to the strengths and limitations of younger students than to those of older students, but this is a shortfall of the institutions not the students. In that regard, Donaldson and Townsend (2007) argued that viewing adult students as nontraditional presumes that adult students’ needs, goals, and behaviors are problematic and that adult students bear the full responsibility to adapt to existing institutional norms, thus relieving institutions of responsibility to adapt to adult students’ needs and goals. To better understand how researchers characterize adult students, Donaldson and Townsend (2007) reviewed seven higher education journals and developed a four-category classification scheme for how adult undergraduate students are discussed: “invisible,” “acknowledged but devalued,” “accepted,” and “embraced” (p. 37). Invisible referred to adult students being ignored owing to the assumption that the postsecondary experiences of younger

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students are universal. Articles categorized as using the acknowledged but devalued perspective framed adult students’ differences from younger students as deficiencies in the former, thus privileging the normative status of younger students. The accepted perspective also addressed adult students’ differences from younger students but did not privilege one group over the other. Authors employing this perspective typically used age to identify adult students and treated identified adults as a monolithic group. Though the accepted perspective offered a more balanced viewpoint than acknowledged but devalued, these articles still utilized existing theories and concepts rather than seeking to develop new approaches to understanding and serving adult students specifically. The embraced perspective highlighted adults’ strengths and contributions to the college, recognized adults are a heterogeneous group, and sought to advance theory and practice on how to improve postsecondary education for adults. Donaldson and Townsend found that 32% of the articles that focused on adult students utilized the acknowledged but devalued perspective, but none of them were published after 2000, suggesting that scholars were moving away from that viewpoint. The accepted perspective was reflected in 46% of the articles, while 32% were classified as exhibiting the embraced view. We argue that researchers and practitioners should adopt the embraced perspective identified by Donaldson and Townsend (2007, p. 37) in order to orient their work toward adult students’ strengths and investigate ways that institutions can facilitate their success. In addition, as research on adult students moves away from a deficit perspective, the definition of adult status should reflect this shift. Efforts to reframe nontraditionality. In addition to the trait framework, Levin (2007) describes two other frameworks applied to understanding nontraditionality in higher education. The behavioral framework focuses on the experiences and struggles of students within and against institutions. Students’ voices and perspectives on their experiences and circumstances dominate the behavioral framework, offering a counterpoint to the externally imposed categorizations of the trait framework. Levin (2007) explains, “within this framework, nontraditional students become students with disadvantages who struggle, because of their identities, against economic, institutional, and social constraints” (p. 36). The action framework examines how entities – postsecondary institutions, governments, public and private organizations, and their respective actors – treat nontraditional students, either equitably or inequitably. It aids in identifying “both institutional and public policies that either thwart or enhance student access to and attainment in postsecondary education,” with the primary focus being on disadvantaged nontraditional students (Levin 2007, p. 39). Levin’s elaboration of the frameworks through which nontraditional students are viewed enriches our understanding of how educational experiences are shaped by socioeconomic privilege. It also shifts the weight of responsibility for the success of nontraditional students away from the deficit-framed traits that presumably define nontraditionality and toward the institutions and organizations that do (or could) serve and support these students. In doing so, Levin emphasizes the important role of community colleges in providing opportunities for social mobility and justice for these students. Still, though these alternative frameworks shift some of the

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responsibility for the success of nontraditional students to institutions, they do not highlight the assets possessed by nontraditional students that oftentimes are not recognized by institutions (Yosso 2005). Other work has aimed to reframe nontraditionality from a positive perspective. Soares (2013) argued that the term “nontraditional” is “institution-centric” and assumes that these students are “aberrations” to the current higher education system (p. 2). Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics, Soares demonstrated the growing number of undergraduate students who are older than 24, who work, and/or who are parents, making “nontraditional” an outmoded description. Instead, Soares (2013, p.2) offered the phrase post-traditional learner to describe the diverse group of students who have the following characteristics in common: 1. Are needed wage earners for themselves or their families; 2. Combine work and learning at the same time or move between them frequently; 3. Pursue knowledge, skills, and credentials that employers will recognize and compensate; 4. Require developmental education to be successful in college-level courses; 5. Seek academic/career advising to navigate their complex path to a degree. (p. 2)

Importantly, this approach serves to characterize students based on their educational goals, strategies, and learning needs, rather than circumstance-driven limitations in their conformability to the traditional structures and demands of postsecondary education.

Synthesizing a Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students Drawing on the several lines of work discussed up to this point, it is clear that adult college students are a diverse group of learners who represent a multiplicity of identities. Their life experiences and personal context inform their goals, needs, and engagement with college more so than does a chronological measure of age alone. A subjective sense of adulthood is an important factor in students’ motivations and behaviors in college and how they interact with faculty and peers. Drawing from these conclusions, we offer the Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students (MCAS), comprised of three dimensions: responsibilities, experiences, and subjective sense of adulthood, as shown in Fig. 1. Experiences encompass students’ past roles and responsibilities, the challenges that they faced and overcame, and the skills (personal, professional, and academic) acquired or enriched through fulfilling their responsibilities and overcoming challenges. Responsibilities refer to the professional, family, personal, civic, and community duties for which students currently are accountable. Subjective sense of adulthood is the degree to which students perceive themselves to be adults. The three dimensions intersect. Prior experiences and the skills acquired from those experiences often influence current responsibilities. Both experiences and

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Fig. 1 Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students (MCAS)

responsibilities influence subjective sense of adulthood. Subjective sense of adulthood may alter individuals’ perceptions of their experiences, as well as the responsibilities that they seek out and embrace. Figure 1 recognizes the intersection of the dimensions but also captures how dimensions of adulthood need not be in balance. For example, an adult student who is retired with grown children living on their own might have extensive experience and numerous skills, a strong subjective sense of adulthood, but relatively fewer immediate responsibilities. We note that the MCAS is located within a larger ecology of social identities, such as race/ethnicity, gender, citizenship, and socioeconomic status. These identities influence and are influenced by the experiences, responsibilities, and subjective sense of adulthood that define the MCAS. We also acknowledge that the dimensions of adulthood are not specific to the activities of being a student, but the MCAS is intended to inform our understanding of individuals in the context of higher education, hence student (the S) in MCAS. Collectively, adult students’ past experiences, acquired skills, current responsibilities, and their sense of being an adult contribute to the perspectives and expectations that they bring to college and to their goals, academic choices, and interactions with postsecondary environments. The greater responsibilities of adult students can conflict with youth-centered norms and expectations of college life even as they also enrich the contributions of adult students to the academic environment and to their fellow students (Kasworm 2003c, 2018; Knowles et al. 2005). If the characteristics that distinguish adult learners are understood by researchers, policymakers, institutional leaders, instructors, practitioners, and other stakeholders, postsecondary institutions will be better equipped to implement policies, programs,

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and instructional strategies that embrace adult students and leverage the strengths that they have acquired from their experiences to fuel their academic success and the success of their fellow students (Donaldson and Townsend 2007).

Operationalizing Adult Status Research, instruction, and practice regarding adult undergraduate students would benefit greatly from a set of survey measures to collect data on students’ experiences, responsibilities, and self-perception of adulthood. While the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) collects some information about students’ responsibilities, it does not capture the additional domains of the MCAS – experience and the degree to which students perceive themselves to be adults – though, admittedly, this is not the purpose of the CCSSE instrument. Data that captures the complexity of adult student status and results in a more accurate understanding of the adults present in the college population has implications for support programs, course scheduling, advising, and professional development for faculty and staff, among other aspects of the institution. Using experiences and circumstances, rather than age, as a marker of adulthood is particularly relevant for community colleges because they serve more first-generation college students and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds than do 4-year institutions (Ma and Baum 2016). As noted earlier, individuals from lower-SES backgrounds are more likely to make adult transitions at an earlier age (Settersten and Ray 2010), and these adult responsibilities inform students’ behavior, goals, and experiences more so than does their age (Kasworm 2018). Yet, if age alone were used to identify an adult student, undergraduates 24 years of age and younger who have significant employment or family responsibilities, who hold leadership roles in their communities, and the like, would not be considered adults. More accurately enumerating adults in a community college’s student population could improve equitable resource allocation, while also adding depth to institutional understanding about the adults served by a particular college could improve institutional initiatives designed to support these students’ outcomes. Data regarding students’ experiences, responsibilities, and subjective sense of adulthood would provide valuable nuance in what it means to be an adult student that a measure of age alone clearly cannot. If survey data were collected as part of an admissions application that all prospective community college students completed, quantitative indices could be derived, offering gradations of the dimensions of adult status to inform institutional research on adult students. The needs and goals of students with high subjective adult status and high level of responsibility but less experience are likely different from those of students with relatively more experience. Programs that encourage and reward adults for prior experiences would better serve the latter than the former, but both could benefit from advising and teaching styles that acknowledge their adult status. With these aims in mind, we propose the survey measures, response categories, and weighting (scoring) scheme in Table 1, which map onto the three dimensions of the MCAS. The items in Table 1 acknowledge the complexity of adulthood and aim

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Table 1 Proposed measures, response categories, and scoring scheme for a student survey informed by the Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students (MCAS) MCAS dimension Responsibilities

Item number 1

Measure Do you currently have unpaid direct caregiving responsibility most days of each week, such as for a child, younger sibling, or ailing or developmentally delayed family member? [if response 5 no, then skip to item #4] For how many persons do you currently have unpaid direct caregiving responsibility most days of each week?

Responsibilities

2

Responsibilities

3

About how many hours per week do you typically spend providing unpaid caregiving, such as for a child, younger sibling, or ailing or developmentally delayed family member?

Responsibilities

4

Responsibilities

5

Do you currently work for pay? [if response 5 no, then skip to item #8] Considering only work for which you receive pay, about how many hours each week do you typically work?

Responsibilities

6

Regarding your work for pay, which of the following are a significant part of your work responsibilities: A. Overseeing money or monetary transactions B. Supervising or training employees C. Planning work/projects/

Response categories Yes/no

Points assigned Screening question only. No points

1 person 2 people 3 people 4 people 5 or more people 1–10 hours per week 11–20 hours per week 21–30 hours per week 31–40 hours per week 41 or more hours per week Yes/no

1.000 2.000 3.000 4.000 5.000

1–10 hours per week 11–20 hours per week 21–30 hours per week 31–40 hours per week 41 or more hours per week Response categories for all questions: This is a significant part of my work responsibilities This is not a significant part

1.000 2.000 3.000 4.000 5.000

Screening question only. No points 1.000 2.000 3.000 4.000 5.000

Scoring for all questions: 0.625 0.000

(continued)

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Table 1 (continued) MCAS dimension

Item number

Responsibilities

7

Responsibilities

8

Responsibilities

9

Responsibilities

10

Measure

Response categories

Points assigned

jobs or assigning tasks to employees D. Managing inventory, supplies, product output, or product transportation E. Deciding how much employees are paid or whether they receive raises F. Hiring, firing, laying-off, or furloughing employees G. Deciding other employees’ work schedules or hours of work H. Deciding which work/ projects/jobs will be accepted and undertaken and which will be declined or rejected Are you self-employed?

Yes/no

Yes ¼ 2.500 No ¼ 0.000 Screening question only. No points

Do you currently volunteer your time for any civic, religious, or public service organizations? Please do not count paid work, and please do not count caregiving responsibilities, such as for a child, younger sibling, or ailing or developmentally delayed family member. [if response 5 no, then skip to item #11] About how many hours per week do you typically spend volunteering for civic, religious, or public service organizations?

As a volunteer, do you hold any formal positions of leadership within civic, religious, or public service organizations? A position of leadership would require you to make decisions about the goals or plans of the

Yes/no

1–10 hours per week 11–20 hours per week 21–30 hours per week 31–40 hours per week 41 or more hours per week Yes/no

1.000 2.000 3.000 4.000 5.000

Yes ¼ 2.500 No ¼ 0.000

(continued)

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Table 1 (continued) MCAS dimension

Item number

Responsibilities

11

Experiences

12

Experiences

13

Experiences

14

Experiences

15

Experiences

16

Experiences

17

Measure organization or decisions about the use of organizational resources. Though you may discuss important life decisions with others, how often are you responsible for making the final decisions for yourself? Have you ever worked for pay? [if response 5 no, then skip to item #16] Over the course of your life to date, for approximately how many years have you worked for pay (the total number of years across all paid jobs)? Have you ever held a paid job for which your main responsibilities were supervising or managing others? [if response 5 no, then skip to item #16] Over the course of your life to date, for approximately how many years has your paid work been focused mainly on supervising or managing others? Have you ever had direct caregiving responsibility most days of each week for a child, a younger sibling, or an ailing or developmentally delayed family member? [if response 5 no, then skip to item #18] Over the course of your life to date, for approximately how many years have you had direct caregiving responsibility most days of each week for a child, a younger sibling, or an ailing or developmentally delayed family member?

Response categories

Points assigned

Never Rarely Sometimes Often Always Yes/no

0.000 1.250 2.500 3.750 5.000 Screening question only. No points 1.000 2.000 3.000 4.000 5.000

1–5 years 6–10 years 11–15 years 16–20 years 21 or more years Yes/no

Screening question only. No points

1–5 years 6–10 years 11–15 years 16–20 years 21 or more years Yes/no

1.000 2.000 3.000 4.000 5.000

Less than 1 year 1–2 years 3–4 years 5–6 years 7 or more years

1.000 2.000 3.000 4.000 5.000

Screening question only. No points

(continued)

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Table 1 (continued) MCAS dimension Experiences

Item number 18

Experiences

19

Experiences

20

Subjective sense of adulthood

21

Measure Have you ever held a volunteer position in a civic, religious, or public service organization that involved weekly effort or work? Please do not count paid work and caregiving responsibilities for a child, younger sibling, or ailing or developmentally delayed family member. [if response 5 no, then skip to item #20] Over the course of your life to date, for about how many years have you served as a volunteer in ways that involved weekly effort or work? How many of the following activities have you done? A. Applied for unemployment or governmental assistance B. Applied for a passport, travel visa, or permit to work C. Applied for a business license or commercial license D. Completed your own personal income taxes or business taxes E. Applied for a marriage license For each of the following statements, please fill in the blank with one of the five responses in the drop-down menu: A. I ——— see myself as an adult. B. The people who are most important to me ——— treat me like an adult. C. My responsibilities ——— require me to act like an adult. D. I ——— think that I have earned the right to be called an adult.

Response categories Yes/no

Points assigned Screening question only. No points

Less than 1 year 1–2 years 3–4 years 5–6 years 7 or more years

1.000 2.000 3.000 4.000 5.000

Response categories for all questions: I have done this activity at least once I have never done this activity

Scoring for all questions: 1.000 0.000

Response categories for all questions: Never Rarely Sometimes Often Always

Scoring for all questions: 0.000 1.250 2.500 3.750 5.000

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to differentiate gradations of adult status that arise from differences in experience, responsibility, and subject sense of adulthood. However, though they are grounded in the empirical literature discussed earlier, the validity and reliability of the items have not been tested and will require scrutiny in future research. To the extent possible, we sought to develop measures that did not privilege economic opportunities, such as being financially independent or living on one’s own. For example, not all individuals have equal opportunity to secure full-time work and a living wage, and instead may be working low-paying or part-time jobs that are insufficient to attain financial independence (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020). We also expanded the dimension of responsibility beyond having children as dependents by asking about other care-taking roles that individuals may hold, such as caring for adult family members. As noted, we propose a set of response categories for each measure and associated scores with the goal of enabling institutional researchers to calculate separate indices capturing the three dimensions of MCAS. Indices of this sort will permit researchers to move beyond problematic dichotomies of adult status or trichotomies of nontraditionality (e.g., Horn and Carroll 1996). The weights (scores) applied to response categories, however, are debatable and may need to be adjusted for institutional context. One would expect variation in the occurrence of maturing experiences across geographic regions, socioeconomic status, sociocultural groups, and other contextual and demographic characteristics, which may be relevant to the weight applied to the response categories of each measure. That said, regardless of the weights applied, the survey items improve institutions’ capacity to identify their adult students and understand their circumstances, which in turn will inform institutional efforts to design and implement programs that leverage adults’ assets and meet their needs. With the intention of providing practical guidance to institutional and policy leaders, in the third section of this chapter, we discuss community college initiatives and programs that have demonstrated potential to increase adult students’ outcomes. First, we provide context for those initiatives and programs with an overview of adults’ participation in higher education.

Adult Students’ Participation in Postsecondary Education In this section, we examine what empirical research tells us about the participation of adult students in higher education. We note, however, that most research relies on age alone as an indicator of adult status, with the many limitations that we discussed earlier. For the sake of clarity when discussing the findings of these studies, we use the phrase adult students to refer to individuals that the authors of the studies identified as adults, typically 25 years of age and older. We use the phrase younger students to refer to students under 25 years of age. We begin with a discussion of adult enrollment in postsecondary education and the prominent role that community

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colleges play in serving the adult undergraduate population. We then provide an overview of the differences between adult and younger students in terms of participation in postsecondary education.

Enrollment in Higher Education Adult students comprise a significant fraction of the undergraduates in the United States. As of Fall 2017, students 25 years of age and older accounted for 25% of students enrolled in public undergraduate postsecondary education and 27% of all students in undergraduate education, including private and public institutions (ED 2019). Adult students tend to differ from younger students in their enrollment intensity. When looking at combined enrollment numbers in public 2- and 4-year institutions, 69% of students 25 years of age and older enrolled part-time (fewer than 12 semester credit hours) compared to 34% of students 18–24 years of age. Fully 77% of adults in public 2-year institutions enrolled part-time (ED 2018). Public 2-year colleges, which served 5.7 million students in the fall of 2017, are the primary point of access to higher education for adult students (ED 2019). Students 25 years of age and older accounted for 33% of public 2-year institution enrollment compared to 19% of undergraduate enrollment in public 4-year institutions (ED 2019). Comparing the college choice criteria of students 25 years and older attending a community college with those attending a university, Broekemier (2002) found that adults at the community college placed higher value on affordability, being able to enroll part-time, job placement services, and the amount of time college staff and faculty devote to students. This suggests that adults choose community colleges believing them to be more aligned with their external responsibilities, goals, and expectations. Enrollment of older students is projected to increase in coming years (Hussar and Bailey 2018), affirming the urgent need to understand the goals, experiences, needs, and educational and labor market outcomes of this segment of the student population (Bahr 2019; Bahr et al. 2020a). In sum, older students rely on community colleges more so than do younger students and enroll part-time more frequently than do younger students, likely due to greater responsibilities outside of school (Kasworm 2003b, 2018). Given the prominent role played by community colleges in serving adult students in higher education, we focus much of our attention in the remainder of this chapter on community colleges.

Role of Community Colleges in Adult Undergraduate Education As noted, adult students account for 25% of undergraduates in public postsecondary institutions (ED 2019) and frequently enroll in college to stabilize or strengthen their labor market opportunities. It follows that the success of adult students has significant implications both for the postsecondary institutions in which they enroll and for the workforce and economy that they enter after leaving college.

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Unfortunately, empirical studies demonstrate that older students have lower rates of first-year persistence and lower 6-year completion rates than do their younger peers (National Student Clearinghouse Research Center 2018; Shapiro et al. 2017). Furthermore, some institutional factors that promote students’ persistence, such as sense of belonging and perceiving the campus as a supportive environment, have been found to be lower among adult students than among younger students (Erb and Drysdale 2017; Rabourn et al. 2018). This lower sense of belonging could be attributed to adults’ perceptions that their postsecondary institution is oriented more toward younger students (Cox and Ebbers 2010; Lynch and Bishop-Clark 1998) and students who do not have obligations outside of school (Rowan-Kenyon et al. 2010). These findings indicate that, despite comprising a significant portion of the undergraduate population, adult students disproportionately experience obstacles to their progress and success, one of which may be inadequate support by colleges. As bastions of access to higher education, community colleges have taken a leading role in providing educational opportunities for lifelong learning, meeting needs to maintain or upgrade workforce skills and acquire new competencies or credentials for workforce reentry or mid-career transitions, and developing personal, familial, or civic interests (Bahr and Gross 2016; Cohen et al. 2014). Responding to workforce shortages in the communities and regions that they serve is embedded within the multifaceted missions of community colleges. Evidence indicates that community colleges will adjust their degree offerings and program foci to meet local demand (Bahr 2013; Barringer and Jaquette 2018). Employers increasingly rely on community colleges to provide job-specific training for their workers, including in high-need areas such as middle-skills professions in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (Hagedorn and Purnamasari 2012; Weeks 2009). Recognizing the power of community colleges to train adults, the US Department of Labor awarded community colleges $1.9 billion dollars in grants to create training programs in healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, information technology, and energy (U.S. Department of Labor 2019). Likewise, the open admissions policies, low cost, and geographic accessibility of community colleges make them a primary source for training or retraining for adults experiencing periods of unemployment (Arkes 1999; Cummins 2014). In addition, community colleges offer a wide range of noncredit courses that allow students of all ages and levels of experience to continue to develop their personal and professional potential throughout their lives (Kasworm 2012). A study of one state’s community college system revealed that 61% of the students enrolled in noncredit courses were 25 years of age or older, and 80% of noncredit classes in which adults enrolled were for occupational training (D’Amico et al. 2014). Results from a national survey of state community college system directors indicate that nearly 60% of noncredit courses offered were for job training (D’Amico et al. 2017). In sum, community colleges hold a uniquely important role as the colleges of the community and therefore are well situated to attend to adult students’ goals and needs (Bahr and Gross 2016). Indeed, community colleges serve a disproportionate share of adult students (ED 2018). Given the weaker credential completion rates of adult students, however, community colleges should grow and strengthen programs

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and initiatives that meet adults’ diverse needs and offer opportunities for them to capitalize on their strengths and experiences as they advance toward their educational goals (Donaldson and Townsend 2007; Kasworm 2003c, 2018).

Adult Students as Diverse Learners Any consideration of adult students in higher education must be careful to avoid a monolithic view of the population (Richardson and King 1998). A more accurate perspective recognizes adult students as a diverse group of learners whose motivations, experiences, and outcomes are informed by their varied life circumstances, identities, roles, and responsibilities. For example, undocumented immigrants and students who speak English as a second language often are found in the adult student population in community colleges (Rodriguez and Cruz 2009). Likewise, veterans frequently are found among adult undergraduates, as 84% of veterans in postsecondary education are 24 years of age or older (Radford 2011). Adult students commonly are assessed as needing varying degrees of developmental support in math and/or English prior to or in conjunction with college-level courses. Using a nationally representative sample of community college students, Chen (2016) found that, in 2003, 62% of first-time students in public 2-year institutions who were 24 years of age or older took remedial courses. Though this figure is lower than the 73% of students 20–23 years old and 70% of students 19 years of age who took remedial courses, it remains that a majority of adult students enrolled in remedial courses. The diverse range of identities that intersect with adult status illustrates the complexity but also the importance of arriving at a more sophisticated understanding of adult students in higher education and how to better serve these students.

Differences Between Older and Younger Students Adult students’ goals, enrollment patterns, and engagement in college are shaped by their prior experiences, current responsibilities, and their sense of adulthood – the dimensions of the Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students (MCAS). Consequently, we find differences between older students and younger students in goals, enrollment patterns, and engagement in college. Goals. The range of purposes and goals that motivate adult students to enroll in community college frequently can differentiate this group from their younger counterparts. Changes in life circumstances and responsibilities, often initiated by sudden triggering events, can prompt the decision to become an active learner, including enrolling in college (Aslanian and Brickell 1980; Ozaki 2006). For example, in one qualitative study at six postsecondary institutions (a mix of community colleges and 4-year institutions), the sudden loss of a job or a divorce were reported as precipitating events of enrolling in college (Kasworm 2003c; Kasworm and Blowers 1994). Unanticipated events relating to relationships, responsibilities, and finances can have greater implications for adults than they do for younger individuals due to the

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former’s independence from parental support (Kasworm 2003c). However, changes in circumstances also can be gradual and anticipated. For example, in a study conducted with first-time adult women in an evening program at a small liberal arts college, participants frequently cited as a reason for entering postsecondary education an increase in their disposable time deriving from children moving out on their own (Mohney and Anderson 1988). Adult students are more likely to enroll in college to gain or enhance professional skills (Compton et al. 2006), frequently choosing programs that lead to a workforce credential, such as a postsecondary certificate or an associate degree in a career and technical education field (Bahr et al. 2020a). Results from the 2018 Community College Survey of Student Engagement (Center for Community College Student Engagement [CCCSE] 2018) indicated that, nationwide, 56% of students 25 years of age and older enrolled in community college to change careers, compared to 22% of students 24 years of age and younger. Although less striking in its contrast, 66% of adults versus 59% of younger students reported obtaining job skills as a reason for enrolling. In addition to a greater focus on acquiring skills, adult students were less likely than were younger students to plan to transfer to a 4-year institution (55% of adult students versus 73% of younger students), but adult and younger community college students were equally likely (78%) to report being invested in earning an associate’s degree (CCCSE 2018). That said, some research suggests that many adult students do not necessarily aspire to a degree or certificate and have other reasons for enrolling in college (Laanan 2003). Adult students, and especially older adult students, are likely to view education as enabling a healthy and independent lifestyle (Lakin 2009). Indeed, community college adult students are more likely than are their younger peers to indicate personal improvement or enjoyment as a reason for participating in postsecondary education (CCCSE 2018). More broadly, the variation evident in research findings concerning adult students’ purposes for their higher education pursuits is an important reminder of the diversity of experiences, identities, and needs that adult students bring to higher education. Institutions seeking to improve adult recruitment and retention must consider both adult students’ educational goals and the obstacles to pursuing those goals. Cross’ (1981) Chain-of-Response model argues that the subjective (relative) importance of an adult’s goals and the degree to which the adult believes that education is an efficacious route to achieving those goals influence the likelihood that an obstacle will prevent the adult from pursuing education. Cross identified three categories of barriers that prevent adults from enrolling in formal education: situational, institutional, and dispositional. Situational obstacles are elements of the adult’s life and responsibilities, such as working hours that conflict with attending school or not having access to supportive childcare arrangements for one’s children. Institutional barriers refer to those presented by the college itself, such as courses scheduled at inconvenient times. Dispositional barriers are personal concerns or traits, like lack of confidence, that might block an adult’s path to education. Enrollment patterns. Given the differences between older and younger community college students in goals, as well as external responsibilities and obligations, it is

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unsurprising to find different enrollment patterns. As noted earlier, adult students are much more likely than are younger students to enroll part-time (ED 2018). That said, having different motivations and attending part-time does not necessarily mean that adult students fail to make academic progress. For example, using statewide data from Virginia, Cho and Karp (2013) found that students 23 years of age and older are more likely to earn credits in their first year of enrollment in a community college than are their younger counterparts. Similarly, Bahr et al. (2020b) found that older students have higher credit success rates in the first year of community college. Focusing on first-time community college students in California, Bahr (2010) developed a typology of students based on their course-taking and enrollment patterns. He identified six behavioral profiles: transfer, vocational, drop-in, noncredit, experimental, and exploratory. Overall, students 26 years of age and older at community college entry accounted for 34% of his statewide sample, but they accounted for just 6% of the students in the transfer cluster and 13% of students in the exploratory cluster, both of which took courses across the curriculum positioning them to transfer or complete an associate’s degree. On the other hand, older students accounted for 64% of the sizeable drop-in cluster, characterized by enrolling in college for just a short time and taking only a few courses but being highly successful in those courses. It seems like that these students were utilizing community colleges to gain necessary skills or knowledge but were not seeking a credential, illustrating the overlap between adults’ goals and enrollment patterns. Older students also accounted for 70% of the noncredit cluster, characterized by enrollment in more noncredit courses than any other cluster and an exceptionally long duration of enrollment. In addition, we note that students 26 years of age and older accounted for only 25% of the experimental cluster, compared with their 34% representation in the overall student population. The experimental cluster was composed of students who enrolled in few courses over a short period of time with low success (Bahr 2010). Experimenting with college and failing courses can be more costly in time and lost wages for adult students with external responsibilities than it is for their younger peers (Bodvarsson and Walker 2004). Of note, although evidence indicates that community college students move back and forth between institutions and enroll simultaneously in multiple community colleges more often than one might expect, adult students are much more likely to focus their course-taking in a single institution (Bahr 2009). This holds true even after accounting for differences between adult and younger students in duration of enrollment (Bahr 2012). Thus, individual community colleges hold the potential to have an especially focused impact on the academic experiences and outcomes of adults in their student populations. Engagement. Adult students frequently differ from their younger counterparts in motivations for learning (Knowles et al. 2005; Purcell 2010), expectations for classroom experiences (Strage 2008), and approaches to academic engagement (Bradley and Graham 2000). Adults attending a public urban university were less likely than younger students to report concerns about criticism from the instructor or classmates hindering their participation in class (Weaver and Qi 2005). The same

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study found that adults were more determined to engage in class, despite obstacles like large class sizes and lecture-based instructor. Purcell (2010) found that adult students at a public university and a community college were more likely than were younger students to stay after class to discuss course content with a professor. Adult students also indicated that they spent more time studying and were motivated more by the goal of learning rather than the goal of achieving high grades (Purcell 2010). These findings affirm that adult students are more intrinsically motivated, supporting assertions discussed earlier in this chapter regarding the characteristics of adult learners (Knowles et al. 2005). Findings from a qualitative study of community college students indicated that adult students believe their prior experiences helped them to develop resilience and skills that aid their successful in college (Kasworm 2005). Adult students describe themselves as highly committed, arguing that they must balance multiple responsibilities and make sacrifices in order to pursue a postsecondary education (Kasworm 2005; Markle 2015). In addition, studies of undergraduates in 4-year universities have noted that adult students report believing that self-reliance, self-discipline, and self-determination will facilitate their success in college, thus highlighting the importance of autonomy and independence in adult students’ learning (Donaldson et al. 2000; Kasworm 2010). Since adult students are more likely to have significant responsibilities outside of college (Fairchild 2003; Kasworm 2003c), their participation occurs primarily in the classroom as opposed to being distributed across a range of environments, like tutoring centers, academic clubs (e.g., math club), office hours, and study groups (Donaldson and Graham 1999). Therefore, adult learners frequently seek to maximize their engagement with peers and instructors during class in order to enhance their learning (Bradley and Graham 2000; Kasworm 2003c). Rabourn, BrckaLorenz, and Shoup (2018) noted that, even though adult students reported having fewer interactions with faculty than did younger students, adult students rated the quality of those interactions higher than did younger students. The authors noted that fewer interactions with faculty may not necessarily be of concern since older students generally have clearer goals and, therefore, do not need as much guidance from faculty. Moreover, adults have reported perceiving that instructors favor them or rely on them to be classroom leaders (Kasworm 2005). Conversely, students have reported feeling disrespected when community college instructors expressed shock that the student did not know something the instructors perceived to be standard knowledge for adults (Kasworm 2005; Katsiaficas et al. 2015). These findings suggest a potentially important relationship between instructor-student interactions, subjective sense of adulthood, and the roles that adult students fulfill in the college classroom. Donaldson and Graham’s (1999) concept of the “connecting classroom” captures the idea that adult students connect to the college experience through the classroom. It is the place where they “construct, for themselves and others, what it means to be a college student” (Donaldson and Graham 1999, p. 31). This is important because adult students also may hold multiple identities (e.g., worker, parent) that they bring to their academic experiences (Compton et al. 2006). Utilizing the classroom as the

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place to draw from those life experiences and identities provides students with the opportunity to integrate the other components of their lives with their educational experiences and develop a college student identity (Donaldson and Graham 1999). However, as noted earlier, it is important to recognize that adult students are not a monolithic group or homogenous in their experiences, circumstances, behaviors, and subjective sense of adulthood. In a six-institution qualitative study, Kasworm (2003a) identified five categories of adult students’ beliefs about academic and experiential knowledge, suggesting that the manner in which students connect classroom experiences to their lives could be affected by their perspective (pp. 87–88). Students that Kasworm dubbed as having an “entry voice” valued academic knowledge above experiential knowledge, believing their experiences could not inform classroom learning. The “outside voice” category was characterized by valuing real-world knowledge and experience over course content, again highlighting the importance of experiences in defining adult status. Those with a “cynical voice” were skeptical about the utility of academic knowledge. Students described as using a “straddling voice” valued both experiential and academic knowledge and worked to build connections between them. The “inclusion voice” also integrated life and classroom knowledge and, in addition, sought to connect their classroom learning to real-world circumstances (Kasworm 2003a). Those students actively reflected on their learning processes, sought learning experiences outside of the classroom, and described academic knowledge as enhancing their understanding of themselves and the multiple contexts in which they interacted (Kasworm 2003c). In sum, the classroom is the primary place for adult students to engage with postsecondary institutions, but there is considerable variation among adult students in their views of the classroom and beliefs about the knowledge acquired there. In addition to how they perceive and use the classroom and the knowledge gained there, evidence suggests that adult students sometimes differ from younger students in their criteria for what defines an ideal instructor or course. In a study of a large metropolitan university, Strage (2008) found that older students described the ideal course and professor as organized and flexible, whereas younger students wanted professors and courses to be funny and engaging. Adult students in Strage’s study also noted that they were comfortable interacting with instructors and viewed them as resources. Greater subjective sense of adulthood could make adult students more at ease engaging with fellow adults, including instructors. Perceiving faculty members as approachable resources is especially important for adult learners given that, as noted earlier, the classroom is their primary place of academic engagement and learning (Bradley and Graham 2000; Kasworm 2003a). Furthermore, by sharing institutional knowledge, faculty members can increase adult students’ social capital, which facilitates students’ connection to other staff or faculty as well as students’ successful navigation of the institution (Dika 2012; Stanton-Salazar 1997). In sum, previous research has found that adults tend to be highly motivated to learn, engaged with course content, and interested in capitalizing on their classroom experiences and likely to perceive and value their instructors as resources. Institutions should urge instructors to interact with adult learners individually as well as to encourage their participation in class, thus attending to adult students’ inclination

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toward using the classroom as the primary place for academic engagement. Instructors also should seek opportunities to assist adult learners with integrating their knowledge and experiences inside and outside the classroom, helping them to shift toward the inclusion voice described by Kasworm (2003c). These strategies recognize and respond to adults’ experiences, responsibilities, and sense of adulthood, expressing the institution’s investment in adult students.

Improving Adult Community College Students’ Outcomes In this section, we provide an overview of previous efforts to identify and classify successful student support programs, and we discuss what they can tell us about supporting adult community college students specifically. We then draw on extant research on community college programs and initiatives to identify those that have potential to positively influence adult students’ outcomes. Connecting back to the first section of this chapter, we map these programs onto characteristics of adult learners identified in the literature and provide examples of how the programs and initiatives connect to the three dimensions of the proposed Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students (MCAS), with the aim of describing hypothesized mechanisms that may explain why certain programs are particularly beneficial for adult learners.

Previous Work on Classifying Community College Support Programs Scholars have categorized community college student success and support programs in a variety of ways (e.g., Crisp and Taggart 2013; Hatch and Bohlig 2016; Karp 2011). Karp’s (2011, p. 2) categorization of “nonacademic support” programs offered at commuter and community colleges included (1) enhanced or intrusive advising; (2) student success courses designed to facilitate a student’s transition to college through the dissemination of information about institutional resources and services, major program of study and course selection, and instruction in study skills; and (3) learning communities, which are pairs or groups of courses taken by a cohort of students. Karp observed wide variation within and across program elements in the studies reviewed, leading her to argue that the process or mechanism contained within the program that helps students succeed is more important than the type of support program. Her examination of the literature led her to identify four mechanisms that facilitate student success: “clarifying aspirations and enhancing [goal] commitment,” “creating social relationships,” “developing college know-how” regarding strategies for and services to support success, and “making college life feasible” by helping students address challenges outside of college (Karp 2011, p. 6). Two of the mechanisms described by Karp likely are as applicable to adult students as to their youngers peers, including addressing the external challenges that prevent students from staying in college (“making college life feasible”) and providing the information that students need to navigate the academic environment

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efficiently and successfully (“developing college know-how”). Direct evidence regarding how the other two mechanisms may differ in expression or strength for adult students versus younger students is more limited, although indirect evidence can lead us to tentative conclusions. Regarding clarification and enhancement of goal commitment, we note that perceived utility of course content has been found to be important for adult students’ persistence (Sorey and Duggan 2008). For individuals with significant external responsibilities and who already have acquired significant experience and skills, course material that is clearly applicable to their lives or careers offers some assurance that their investment in the course and the opportunity cost that they bear is worthwhile (Knowles et al. 2005). Metzner and Bean (1987) discovered that nontraditional students’ perceptions of how useful a course was to their career goals had a positive association with persistence. In Metzner and Bean’s study, a “nontraditional” student was defined as enrolling part-time (less than 12 credits) and commuting to campus. While age was not part of the sample selection criteria, onethird of the students in the sample were 25 years of age or older. Results from a study of adults enrolled in 2- and 4-year degree programs at a private university demonstrated a positive relationship between persistence and the level of confidence students had in their ability to select a career (career decision-making self-efficacy), suggesting that adults value college experiences that support their path to an occupation (Sandler 2000). Viewing Karp’s (2011) proposition about clarification and enhancement of goal commitment in light of the aforementioned research on adult students, we might hypothesize that a key mechanism by which student support programs influence adults’ success is through illuminating the connections between prescribed coursework and the students’ goals, as opposed to helping students clarify their goals in the first place. Clearly, this also is needed in the coursework itself, it being incumbent on instructors to ensure that they are communicating the relevance of course material to students’ goals. Regarding creating social relationships, there is some debate regarding the importance of social experiences for adult students’ outcomes. Sorey and Duggan (2008) found that developing relationships with peers was the strongest predictor of first-to-second-term persistence for adult students. Likewise, Sandler (2000) found that making friendships predicted persistence among a sample of adults at a private university. However, Metzner and Bean (1987) found no relationship between measures of social experiences (number of important friendships at the college, frequent contact with faculty, and participating in student organizations) and term GPA or persistence for “nontraditional” students.1

Metzner and Bean (1987), Sandler (2000), and Sorey and Duggan (2008) use the term “social integration” to refer to social experiences, based on Tinto’s (1975) work. However, given the assimilationist assumptions and origins of the term (Museus 2014) and the differences in how these authors measured the variable, we describe the social variables with terminology that better represents how the variables were measured. 1

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Sorey and Duggan (2008) hypothesized that this discrepancy between their findings and those of Metzner and Bean (1987) may be attributed to the fact that they conducted their study in a community college and specifically used being 25 years of age and older to define adult in their sample, while Metzner and Bean’s participants were from a 4-year commuter institution and were not limited to students 25 years of age or older. The discrepancy also could be attributed to differences in variable operationalization, as Sorey and Duggan and Sandler assessed social experiences with items relating to ability to make friends and the quality of relationships, not the number of friends on campus, faculty interactions, or participating in organizations. The latter two items may not align with adults, as adults likely have a greater share of their important friendships arising from experiences prior to college, and adults are less likely to participate in student organizations than are younger students due to time constraints. Indeed, Kasworm (2005) found that adult community college students valued their in-class friendships, but those relationships did not extend outside the classroom. Thus, quality social experiences and peer interactions may be important supports for adult students, but adults may not (or may not be able to) engage in the social life of the college in the same way or to the same extent as their younger peers. Other studies indicate that adult students prefer having other adult students in their classes (Cox and Ebbers 2010; Lynch and Bishop-Clark 1998). If adults use the classroom as their primary place to engage with peers (Donaldson and Graham 1999; Kasworm 2003a), preferences for wanting other adults with whom to engage could be interpreted as adults valuing social connections on campus. Still, evidence suggests that viewing the institution as supportive of learning and personal growth has a stronger positive effect on adult students’ self-reported learning gains and career development than does the number of hours that the student is involved in campus activities (Bradley and Graham 2000). Adult students have reported that favorable interactions with faculty increase their sense of belonging (Cox and Ebbers 2010), which in turn positively influences persistence and institutional commitment (Hausmann et al. 2009; O’Keeffe 2013). Institutional commitment, or the degree to which a student is dedicated to attending and graduating from a particular college, is positively associated with adult students’ persistence (Sorey and Duggan 2008). Factors related to institutional commitment, such as belief that institutional agents (e.g., advisors, faculty) are supportive, are associated with persistence and completion (Bergman et al. 2014) and learning gains (Bradley and Graham 2000). Similarly, frequency of meeting with academic and faculty advisors also is positively associated with adult student persistence (Shields 1994). Based on the evidence, we might hypothesize that course sections that are designed for and marketed to adults could address adults’ prioritization of learning while also providing opportunities to create the social relationships that Karp (2011) suggested may be important. Colleges also could increase opportunities for adults to engage with faculty, such as through faculty mentoring programs. A peer mentoring program may be less effective for adult students as adults may not view a mentor of a younger age in a markedly different life stage as a peer.

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To further understanding of the components of student success programs, Hatch and Bohlig (2016) developed a typology of community college student success programs using data from the Community College Institutional Survey. Using factor mixture modeling, they identified four latent types of programs, defined by combinations of five factors or component elements. The component elements included (1) college success skills, (2) collaborative and contextualized learning, (3) academic and student services, (4) co-curricular and community activities, and (5) ancillary instruction (p. 86). Their research is a first step in understanding how and why some program elements or combinations of program elements may be more or less important for certain student subpopulations, such as adult students, though this was not tested in the study. For example, adult students may respond differently than do younger students to a program that features opportunities to exercise autonomy. Other research is this area includes Crisp and Taggart’s (2013) review of the effectiveness of student success programs that are prominently featured in community colleges, such as student success courses, learning communities, and supplemental instruction. The Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE 2012) also presented a three-part framework for “promising practices” in community colleges. The framework organizes practices into three categories: “planning for success,” “initiating success,” and “sustaining success” (p. 8). The planning category consisted of course placement assessments and methods, orientation, advising centered on academic goal setting, and prompt registration. Programs to support first-year students, accelerated paths through development coursework, learning communities, and student success courses comprised the initiating category. The sustaining practices were attending class, early alert, hands-on learning, tutoring, and supplemental instruction. However, neither of this studies delved into how support programs may or may not align with adult students’ needs. In contrast, Van Noy and Heidkamp (2013) identified and categorized support programs, forms of financial assistance, and practices at the state and community college level that can improve adults’ experiences and completion outcomes. The state reforms included academic programs (e.g., career pathways), financial aid specifically for adults, building relationships between stakeholders, and increased use of data to monitor and inform programming. The authors provided a list of institutional practices that address adults’ various needs, strengths, and goals in the domains of academics, transitioning to college, and holistic support services, including transportation and financial aid. The authors also noted subsets of adults who benefit most from particular services, such as low-skilled adults or dislocated workers, recognizing the heterogeneity within the adult student population. More broadly, Van Noy and Heidkamp (2013) draw attention to the importance of recognizing that the practices that can improve adults’ experiences and outcomes sometimes are different from those for younger students (Bailey and Alfonso 2005). Their work provides a broad overview of college and state programs and policies that can transform adults’ educational experiences. This chapter adds to their efforts by providing a more detailed discussion of the extant research and identifying connections between dimensions of adulthood in the college context (the MCAS) and

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aspects of the programs that align with those elements. Van Noy and Heidkamp also stress the importance of data as “essential for states and colleges to understand the needs of adults as well as the results of their policies and practices” (Van Noy and Heidkamp 2013, p. 21), and we seek to advance this position with our proposed survey measures aligned with the MCAS (see Table 1).

Programs and Initiatives with Potential to Improve Adult Students’ Outcomes We focus here on community college programs and initiatives that feature characteristics that can promote adult students’ success, including prior learning assessment (PLA), accelerated programs, distance learning, advising, student success courses, and learning communities. Prior learning assessment (PLA) counts toward academic progress the educationally relevant experiences and knowledge accumulated by adults. Accelerated programs offer adults a faster route to a credential, recognizing that adult students often are juggling work, caregiving, and other competing obligations. Distance learning programs recognize adults’ advanced capacity to learn autonomously and allow them to do so at times that do not conflict with their other obligations. Adult-focused advising processes and techniques can acknowledge adult students’ responsibilities, roles, and motivations, in addition to guiding adult students in the efficient identification and completion of programs that are most relevant to their goals. Student success courses can teach adult students the skills needed to maximize their learning and likelihood of completing their programs of study. Learning communities offer unique opportunities for adult students to construct their college student identities and engage in productive relationships with peers and faculty in the context of the classroom, the primary location of adult students’ involvement in postsecondary institutions. Prior learning assessment. PLA helps students to earn credits based on knowledge gained outside of school and, therefore, decreases the time required to earn a credential. Offering PLA can signal to adult students that the institution values their prior experiences, and it can contribute to students’ perceptions that the institution supports them. Believing that the institution is responsive to their needs is associated with adult students’ persistence and completion (Bergman et al. 2014) as well as selfreported learning gains (Bradley and Graham 2000). Providing a means by which adult students can earn college credits for prior learning is not a new practice, but the extent to which it has been adopted widely by community colleges is unclear (Kamenetz 2011). PLA involves “evaluat[ing] for academic credit the college-level knowledge and skills an individual has gained outside of the classroom, including from employment (e.g., on-the-job training, employer-developed training), military training/service, travel, hobbies, civic activities and volunteer service” (Brigham and Klein-Collins 2010, p. 1). There are different methods that colleges use to evaluate prior learning experiences for the purpose of earning college-level credit. These methods include (1) standardized exams, such as Advanced Placement (AP) or the College-Level Examination

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Program (CLEP), (2) institutional challenge exams, (3) military or professional training programs that have been formally evaluated by the American Council for Education (ACE), and (4) individualized portfolio assessments (Brigham and KleinCollins 2010; Sherman and Klein-Collins 2015). PLA is tailored to benefit adult students because it acknowledges the learning gained prior to and alongside college enrollment (Kamenetz 2011). Therefore, PLA can smooth the transition into academic life for many adults who bring to their education a diverse set of skills and experiences, while also accelerating their progress toward their goals, saving time and money. Due to the relatively high level of standardization in military training compared to on-the-job training in other fields, active duty military students and veterans are especially well positioned to benefit from PLA offerings (National Adult Learner Coalition 2017). Higher education plays an important role in the transition from military service to civilian life (DiRamio and Jarvis 2011), but the costs of starting over can be prohibitive (Winston 2010). Awarding credit for the training and experience that veterans gained during their military service can assist them in both obtaining a postsecondary credential and communicating the educational value of their military service to potential employers (Bergman and Herd 2017). There is surprisingly little information available about how many community colleges offer PLA or the extent of PLA policies in these institutions. While there are studies that focus on particular college systems that utilize PLA (e.g., Finkel 2017; Hayward and Williams 2015), we are unaware of any nationwide assessments of PLA policies. Results from a 2010 survey asking community colleges about their utilization of PLA indicated that 90% of responding community colleges offered credit for CLEP exam scores, 85% had challenge exams, and 64% conducted portfolio assessments (Brigham and Klein-Collins 2010). However, the responding institutions represented only 20 states and, therefore, may not be indicative of the extent to which community colleges nationwide offer PLA. A 2017 report found that 24 states had policies that permitted or mandated postsecondary institutions to accept PLA, but the number of college systems that offer PLA remains unknown (Whinnery 2017). Some states are actively supporting PLA, such as Washington and Colorado (e.g., Colorado General Assembly 2017; Finkel 2017; Whinnery 2017). Colorado’s legislature adopted a bill in 2017 requiring each postsecondary institution in the state to develop and implement a PLA policy for veterans (Colorado General Assembly 2017). Furthermore, the law mandated that any credits earned by veterans under PLA would be transferable to other public institutions in the state, which is especially beneficial to community college students who are pursuing a 4-year degree. Washington state is using PLA as one strategy to achieve its goal of 70% of state residents between the ages 25 and 44 having a postsecondary credential (Washington Student Achievement Council [WSAC] 2017). Over the past 10 years, the state has passed legislation requiring postsecondary institutions to collaborate to increase the number of credits earned through PLA, develop methods of assessing prior learning including knowledge gained in military training, provide training for faculty and

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staff to assess prior learning, and convene a working group of state board officials, faculty, and college leaders to monitor progress in increasing PLA participation (WSAC 2017; Washington State Legislature HB 1795 – 2011-12 2011). (WSAC 2017). The state subsequently has seen an increase in the number of credits awarded for prior learning (WSAC 2019). Empirical research on the influence of PLA on student learning, persistence, and completion generally and in community colleges specifically is limited. Among the relatively few studies in this area, Klein-Collins (2010) conducted a multi-institution study of the association between PLA and key student outcomes. She explored the methods of PLA used within and across institutions and the ways in which adult students – age 25 or older – were able to apply awarded credits toward educational program requirements. She found that study institutions often used more than one form of assessment, including standardized exams (e.g., CLEP), ACE-evaluated corporate and military training programs, exams designed by the institution, and student-prepared portfolios. Offering multiple assessment options allows adult students to use the method best suited to communicate their knowledge and learning experiences (Klein-Collins 2010). The majority of institutions allowed adult students to use PLA-earned credits to meet elective requirements, general education requirements, or program/major requirements, although the policies affecting the use of PLA-earned credits varied by institution and, within institutions, by department. Klein-Collins’ study suggests that PLA contributes to higher rates of persistence and completion for adult students across the age spectrum. However, the cross-sectional nature of the data, lack of important controls, and self-selection of institutions into the study place significant limits on confidence in the internal and external validity of the study. A separate study (Hayward and Williams 2015) examined whether the associations between PLA and key student outcomes vary by PLA assessment method (i.e., ACE, CLEP, Portfolio, or combination) and found that students who earned PLA credits through CLEP exams were more likely to graduate than were students who earned credit through ACE programs, a portfolio, or combination. However, like Klein-Collins (2010), this study was limited by the cross-sectional nature of the data and the lack of a comprehensive set of controls. Bergman, Gross, Berry, and Schuck (2014) found that earning credits from PLA was positively associated with persistence, but their study was conducted with adult students in a baccalaureate program and may not be generalizable to community colleges. Given their accumulated experience and skills, PLA clearly is more useful to adult students than to their younger peers, but adult students cannot benefit from PLA programs if they are not aware of them. Using nationwide data about community colleges, Van Noy and Heidkamp (2013) found that offering PLA did not have a statistically significant relationship with adult enrollment. The authors interpret this finding as an indication that students are not aware that PLA is available, pointing to the importance of communicating these programs to prospective adult students. Accelerated programs. Increasingly, academic programs are being offered in accelerated formats that shorten time to content mastery and program completion (Kasworm 2012). Some of the most popular accelerated programs are in business

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administration, information technology, and healthcare (Wlodkowski 2003). Rising tuition costs have heightened the appeal of such programs for students of all ages, but adult students in particular may benefit from accelerated programs due to their frequently greater opportunity cost for taking time out of paid employment. Additionally, older students often have multiple, competing roles that limit the time that they can allocate to coursework. Accelerated programs are one strategy to address the challenge of competing responsibilities, which frequently instead require students to enroll part-time, lengthening the time required to complete a program of study. Research on students’ experiences offers a mostly positive view of accelerated programs. In interviews with 20 adult students in an accelerated degree program, Kasworm (2003b) found that participants believed the accelerated program offered a better fit for their age and stage of life, whereas the traditional programs were structured in a way they perceived to be more appropriate for younger students. The peer support available in the accelerated program had a positive influence on students’ experiences. While some missed the breadth of material covered in more traditional degree programs, they appreciated that the accelerated program offered a more focused and direct path to meeting their goals. However, the students also expressed that there was too much structure and not enough flexibility in program requirements (Kasworm 2003b). Johnson (2009) investigated faculty members’ experiences with accelerated programs and found that those who had taught both traditional and accelerated classes encountered similar challenges in the two types of classes. They did not find that the quality of instruction was compromised in accelerated programs. On the contrary, accelerated classes tended to have higher levels of student engagement and attendance compared to traditional courses. Some of the factors that could influence students’ success in accelerated programs, such as competing demands at work and home, are beyond institutions’ control, but colleges can create accelerated programs that are compatible with adults’ schedules, expectations, and interests. According to Husson and Kennedy (2003), successful accelerated programs minimize barriers to access, are student-centered rather than instructor-centered, are responsive to student and employer demand, are designed with adult learners in mind, offer multiple course delivery options, and maintain high standards of academic quality. Furthermore, institutions can tailor advising, assessment, and course schedules to better serve adult students enrolled in accelerated programs (Walvoord 2003). To the extent that credentials serve as signals of employability, accelerated programs have one potential disadvantage, namely, that institutions granting accelerated credentials are sometimes perceived as less credible or prestigious (Kasworm 2003b; Wlodkowski 2003). Still, given that accelerated programs are largely designed to serve students who already are engaged in the workforce, there is potential for colleges to build corporate partnerships and encourage employer buy-in (Husson and Kennedy 2003), perhaps most easily through short certificate programs in programs of study that align with employers’ needs.

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Distance learning. Another way that community colleges have sought to increase accessibility and success for adult students is by expanding courses offered in an online or hybrid format and making support services like tutoring available online (Hardin 2008; Kasworm 2012). In 2015, community colleges hosted over 36% of all undergraduate distance learning enrollment (Allen and Seaman 2017). Despite assumptions that adult students are less willing to engage with technology, they are especially likely to take advantage of online and hybrid classes (Ausburn 2004). Distance learning options allow adult students to build their course schedules around their responsibilities, such as employment and caregiving. Previous studies of student outcomes in online courses have produced mixed findings. Using nationally representative data, Shea and Bidjerano (2014) found that community college students who completed at least some online coursework during their first year of college were more likely to earn a credential as compared with students who took classes on campus only. However, other studies of distance learning at community colleges have found that key course outcomes, such as grades and persistence, are lower for online classes as compared with face-to-face classes (e.g., Bahr et al. 2020c; Xu and Jaggars 2013). Adults may be more successful in online courses than younger students due to a greater preference for self-direction and skill at self-regulation (Donaldson et al. 2000; Kasworm 2010). A study conducted with relatively older community college students (mean age of the sample was nearly 28) showed that autonomy has a positive relationship with course final grades (Yen and Liu 2009). Online learning provides more opportunities for autonomous learning by removing constraints on how, when, and where students learn (Barak et al. 2016). Students also can adjust the pace of their learning, pausing when necessary or when confusion arises, drawing on a variety of tools to obtain clarification, and then returning to the lesson, thus allowing students to control their learning experience and achieve mastery (Barak et al. 2016). Being able to direct their own learning, have flexible scheduling, and use tools that they find most helpful were the main reasons adult undergraduates at universities said they that prefer online courses (Bourdeaux and Schoenack 2016). The availability of distance learning opportunities is growing, and community colleges are poised to take advantage of improvements in online learning tools and platforms. Online learning is especially important for rural institutions, which serve geographically dispersed student populations who may be especially likely to benefit from distance learning options. The median age for rural communities is higher than it is for urban communities, and therefore rural community colleges are likely to have a higher proportion of adult students (Day et al. 2016). Yet, rural institutions face challenges in offering online programs due to a shortage of personnel to create, support, and deliver those programs (Leist and Travis 2010). Based on key informant interviews at six rural community colleges, where planning for distance learning was typically short-term and reactive, Leist and Travis (2010) concluded that long-term strategic planning regarding programming, course development, and faculty training

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will be essential for ensuring the successful implementation of online programs in rural institutions. In addition, access to resources, such as a high-quality internet connection, has implications for adult participation in higher education (Rosen and Vanek 2017). The growth of online and hybrid courses illustrates the role that technology can play in making education and training more accessible for students who need greater flexibility. However, the effectiveness of this strategy depends on students’ access and ability to engage with technology. Some scholars conceptualize age differences in technology skills in terms of generational exposure to technology in education, employment, and everyday life (Margaryan et al. 2011; Prensky 2001; Ransdell et al. 2011). The term “digital natives” has been used to describe students who grew up using technology and, therefore, are assumed to be more technologically adept (Prensky 2001, p. 1). In contrast, “digital immigrants” refers to those who entered adulthood before the use of digital technologies became widespread in education and employment (Prensky 2001, p. 2). The immigrant/native metaphor offers an explanation for observed age differences in technology use and skills. As “digital immigrants,” older students would be expected to face additional obstacles to using technology in educational contexts. That said, the immigrant/native terminology creates an arguably inaccurate dichotomy and has negative connotations, implying that one group belongs while the other does not. Moreover, the use of these terms assumes that students must bear the burden of adapting to current practices, rather than colleges being responsible for teaching adult students the skills and knowledge that they need to succeed (Donaldson and Townsend 2007). Several researchers have challenged this dichotomy, citing evidence of significant diversity within age groups in technology usage and skills (Jelfs and Richardson 2013; Jones et al. 2010; Katz 2007; Lai and Hong 2015; Margaryan et al. 2011; Stoerger 2009; Wang et al. 2013). Over 90% of individuals ages 30–49 in the United States and 79% of individuals ages 50–64 own a smartphone (Pew Research Center 2019). Differences in digital literacy can be found among younger students as well as adult students (Reder 2015). Moreover, longitudinal data suggest that older adults become successful technology learners over time (Sayago et al. 2013), and there is evidence that short-term computer literacy interventions can improve older adults’ technology skills (Seals et al. 2008). Findings from a 2013 study of community and technical college students in Washington indicated that adult students may have greater adaptability to online learning as compared to younger students, although both age groups had better outcomes in face-to-face classes (Xu and Jaggars 2013). Because existing evidence belies the existence of a simple dichotomy between older and younger students, while also supporting the conclusion that students who did not grow up with computers can acquire technology skills later in life, Wang et al. (2013) propose the concept of digital fluency as an alternative to the immigrant/native metaphor. Digital fluency, or digital literacy, represents a continuum of skill levels. Similarly, Stoerger (2009) introduces the concept of a “digital melting pot” (para. 5) to account for the possibility

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of “digital immigrants” (para. 5) becoming assimilated through learning technology skills. As online learning continues to expand, course development should be informed not only by students’ digital fluency but also, according to Cercone (2008), by theories of adult learning (e.g., Knowles’ theory of andragogy; Knowles et al. 2005). Like other course formats, online learning is not one-size-fits-all, and understanding students’ characteristics and learning styles is vital for promoting successful outcomes. One study found that adults prefer the same characteristics in online learning that they value in face-to-face courses, namely, variety, autonomy, content that can be applied to real-world problems, and a sense of belonging to a community (Ausburn 2004). Examples of strategies for making online courses more age-friendly include self-pacing, exit points (ability to earn credit for completing a designated portion of a course), and the ability to review prior material, helping to facilitate adult students’ autonomous learning (Cercone 2008). Advising. With regard to advising, we recognize that faculty are important sources of support and guidance for students generally and especially for adult students (Deil-Amen 2011; Dika 2012), but we focus more narrowly here on formal advising as part of an array of student services in community colleges. Adult students tend to view and utilize the advisor-student relationship differently than do younger students due to their past experiences and current responsibilities and therefore could benefit from a different advising approach than that used with younger students. However, there is a lack of consensus regarding the advising strategy that is most beneficial for adults. Giczkowski and Allen (1994) argue that adult students are not likely to pursue a mentor relationship with their academic advisor. The authors recommend that advisors utilize a consulting approach, which prioritizes efficient transmission of information over working to build a close mentoring relationship. This method may align better with older students’ independence and desire for efficient advice (Giczkowski and Allen 1994; Horn 1997). Others argue for the importance of advisors working to build relationships with their adult advisees. Bland (2003) promotes a developmental model for advising adults, which emphasizes a collaborative partnership between the advisor and student. In the developmental model, both parties share responsibility for the students’ outcomes, and the emphasis is on the student’s growth, not just the transmission of information. Hughey (2011) recommends an interpersonal approach, stressing the importance of active listening, continuous support, high expectations, and encouraging students to identify and use their strengths to solve problems. Though Hughey’s strategies were not specific to adult students, active listening could help advisors understand how adults’ experiences, responsibilities, and subjective sense of adulthood inform their needs and choices. In addition, advisor guidance about how to utilize the strengths arising from prior experiences and skills could aid adult students’ motivation and success. Consistent with Hughey’s assertions, a study of women ages 25 and older enrolled at women’s colleges found that advisors’ recognition and understanding of students’ ages, income levels, family roles, and prior experiences was an important factor in positive student-advisor relationships (Auguste et al. 2018).

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Some community colleges offer personalized career advising designed to assess skills and match interests with programs in defined academic or occupational areas (Cummins 2014). While advising addresses students’ academic needs, it also can support their nonacademic needs, such as navigating the bureaucratic requirements of college and developing interpersonal relationships with college staff (Karp 2011). Those relationships help students gain more information about college and feel that they belong in college – outcomes especially important for adult students who may have been out of formal education for some years and may perceive that college is mainly for younger students (Kasworm 2018; Lynch and Bishop-Clark 1998; Simi and Matusitz 2016). Some approaches to advising are designed to be intrusive or proactive, assuming that all students will need some form of advising support along the way (Karp 2011). In this model, the institution shares the burden of identifying when students may be struggling (Donaldson et al. 2016; Earl 1988). Giczkowski and Allen (1994) noted that, despite frequently projecting autonomy, determination, and confidence, adult students may be masking concerns and fears about their academic performance, adjustment to college, and ability to juggle coursework while maintaining their other responsibilities. Donaldson et al. (2016) conducted in-depth interviews with students at a large community college in Texas who were required to meet with their advisor twice during their first semester. The authors found that students reported benefiting from the intrusive advising because it gave them the opportunity to develop an ongoing relationship with their advisor and engage in individualized academic and career planning. Participants indicated that the mandatory nature of the meetings helped them to plan early and that they would not have met with their advisor unless required to do so. However, it is important to note that only two of the students in their sample were 24 years of age or older, and therefore it is unclear if adult students would view required advising sessions in such a positive manner given their often significant familial and work obligations and preference for autonomy. Little is known about the effect of intrusive or developmental advising on academic and career success for adult undergraduates, but individualized advising may be especially beneficial for adult students (Smith 2007; Sutton 2016), and it may be an efficient way for adult students to receive important information (Horn 1997). Shields (1994) found that the frequency of seeing an academic advisor was correlated with adult students persisting to the next term. However, frequency of advising does not necessarily indicate that students believe their needs or goals are being addressed. It seems likely that any advising approach will be more effective for older students when advisors are knowledgeable about the needs of adult students and the challenges that they often face in balancing school with other responsibilities. As noted earlier, perceiving that institutional agents, such as academic advisors, care about them is positively associated with adult students’ persistence (Bergman et al. 2014). Student success courses. A growing number of community colleges offer student success courses designed to introduce students to academic and career services and help them to develop skills needed to be successful in college, such as study skills and time management, among others (Cummins 2014; Hatch et al.

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2018; Karp 2011). While some community colleges require all first-year students to complete a student success course, others require this only of students taking developmental (remedial) classes (O’Gara et al. 2009; Zeidenberg et al. 2007). Several studies have provided evidence of the positive influence of success courses on student outcomes but have not evaluated whether these positive relationships hold true across the spectrum of age found among community college students (Cho and Karp 2013; Hatch et al. 2019; Zeidenberg et al. 2007). Qualitative research on student success courses provides some insights into students’ experiences. For example, Duggan and Williams (2010) interviewed 60 students who recently had taken a student success course at one of ten community colleges, seeking to determine the topics and teaching methods that students perceived to be most helpful. While most students reported that their student success course was useful, some said they did not need the course because they perceived themselves to be sufficiently prepared for college prior to the course or believed that the information provided was “common sense” (Duggan and Williams 2010, p. 125). For example, some students indicated that they already possessed the study skills covered by the course and that guest speakers presenting various career options were not helpful. While the authors did not identify the ages of the students who said that their student success courses were not useful, Duggan and Williams noted that adult students who have held jobs or started careers may not benefit as much as younger students from some of the course topics, such as how to dress for a job interview. To increase the utility of these courses, student success programming should account for the age diversity of student populations (Duggan and Williams 2010). Empirical investigations that illuminate the effectiveness of program elements or combinations of program elements for particular student subpopulations, including a range of age groups, could be useful in addressing this concern (e.g., Hatch and Bohlig 2016). Considering previous findings on factors that promote positive outcomes for adult students, one element of student success courses that could be particularly relevant for adult students is helping them to acclimate to college expectations and the bureaucratic processes of postsecondary institutions, as well as to develop college student identities. Concerning the latter, in their study of student success courses offered by community colleges, Hatch et al. (2019) noted that the courses provided an opportunity for individuals to practice and construct their identities as college students. Students learned from one another, had close relationships with the instructor, and could rehearse their skills and role as a college student in a relatively low-stakes environment. Having a college student identity could promote sense of belonging, which has been found to be positively associated with persistence (Hausmann et al. 2009; O’Keeffe 2013). Extracurricular responsibilities limit the amount of time that adult students can spend on campus, making their classes the primary place for them to engage with others and form their identities as college students (Bradley and Graham 2000; Donaldson and Graham 1999; Kasworm 2003a). In addition, a course focused on skills and strategies for success in college aligns with adult students’ preference for course content that is applicable to other courses

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(Knowles et al. 2005). Though this assertion conflicts with Hatch et al.’s (2019) finding that the skills-based elements of student success courses are less influential than the role that the courses play in providing an opportunity to gain experience in the new college student role, we note that findings were not disaggregated by age. Their findings may not reflect adult students’ experiences. In addition, Hatch et al. identified the conceptual difficulty of a student success course being simultaneously a means to teach skills for college success and an introduction to the format of a college course. Due to prior workforce and caregiving experiences, learning in the course of carrying out their responsibilities, adult students may be more equipped than younger students to benefit from the content and format of the course simultaneously. College success courses also can be opportunities for interpersonal support and receiving information about academic planning. Karp, Hughes, and O’Gara (2010–2011) found that the instructor of the college success course became students’ main source of information and support due to positive classroom experiences and the instructor’s capacity to provide individualized guidance. In sum, student success courses appear to have the potential to improve adult students’ engagement, identification as a college student, and ultimately their academic outcomes. Learning communities. As explained by Malnarich (2005), “[l]earning communities intentionally restructure students’ time, credit, and learning experiences to build community among students and faculty and to build curricular connections across disciplines, professional and technical programs, and skill areas” (p. 52). In some institutions, block scheduling allows students to take sets of courses together. In other institutions, students may be required to enroll in the same courses for the first semester. Learning communities also may be organized in a manner in which courses from different disciplines share a common theme (Spaid and Duff 2009; Tinto 2003; Wathington et al. 2010; Weiss et al. 2015). Some developmental education learning community programs incorporate student support services, such as tutoring and advising, providing a more holistically supportive academic experience for the student (Weiss et al. 2015). Studies suggest that learning communities can strengthen community college students’ relationships with faculty (Jackson et al. 2013) and improve persistence (Tinto 1997) and credit success rate (Weiss et al. 2015). By providing opportunities for sustained interaction among a group of students, cohort programs promote the creation of social and academic support networks (Wathington et al. 2010; Weiss et al. 2015). This may be especially beneficial for older students in community colleges, who often spend little time on campus outside of classes due to competing roles and obligations (Tinto 1998; Wathington et al. 2010; Weiss et al. 2015). Moreover, as noted earlier, interactions with faculty are associated with positive outcomes for adult students (Cox and Ebbers 2010; Shields 1994). Online or hybrid classes that involve a cohort structure also can promote student interaction and social support, but creating opportunities for collaboration and engagement in an online setting requires deliberate efforts on the part of the institution (Rausch and Crawford 2012).

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Well-designed cohort programs have many potential advantages, but introducing a cohort structure does not guarantee positive outcomes. Unintended consequences of learning communities can include groupthink, the formation of cliques, and suppression of dissenting views, among others (Beachboard et al. 2011; Jaffe et al. 2008). These could diminish students’ engagement if they do not perceive the classroom as a place where they can share their individual perspectives and draw on their unique experiences (Knowles et al. 2005). Additional research is needed to identify factors that may mitigate negative social dynamics for students who participate in cohort models, particularly adult students in a community college setting. Hatch and Bohlig (2016) noted that learning communities typically do not target any particular subgroup of students, such as adult learners. Yet, researchers have highlighted the value that adult students place on having other older students in their classes (Cox and Ebbers 2010; Lynch and Bishop-Clark 1998). On one hand, a learning community that is designed for students with “adult statuses” (Kasworm 2003c, p. 3) would not only provide a support network of students with similar needs and goals but also could be tailored to meet adults’ preferences regarding the delivery and utility of course content (Knowles et al. 2005). On the other hand, an adult-targeted learning community runs the risk of marginalizing adult students; to mitigate that risk, colleges would need to ensure that adult students also have meaningful opportunities for academic and social engagement with the larger campus community.

Mapping Mechanisms onto Adult Characteristics Prior learning assessment (PLA), accelerated programs, distance learning options, adult-attentive advising practices, student success courses, and learning communities can be utilized by colleges to capitalize on adults’ experience and skills with the aim of supporting adults and helping them advance efficiently toward their goals. A suite of such interventions targeted at adult students could increase flexibility, improve peer networks and relationships with institutional actors, help acclimate adults into the college environment, and signal to them that their experiential knowledge and skills are valued, while decreasing risk of attrition and time to graduation. That said, the diversity within the adult student population ensures that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to attend to all of their goals, needs, and preferences. In fact, some of the programs and policies mentioned here emphasize seemingly contradictory aims. For example, online courses offer flexibility, while intrusive advising emphasizes targeted support. Accelerated programs and prior learning aim to shorten the time to a degree, while learning communities aim to build supportive relationships, and a college success course targets skills to aid learning and navigate the college experience and environment. These contrasting objectives should not be interpreted as inherently problematic or disorganized. Instead, they point to the varied needs of adult students and the many ways that adults’ strengths and experiences can be leveraged to improve their educational outcomes. As explained by

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Bailey and Alfonso (2005, p. 21), “No program, however well designed, can work in isolation.” Any one program or initiative likely is insufficient to counter multiple institutional elements that act as barriers to adult students’ success, such as an unwelcoming environment and course schedules that conflict with external obligations for working adults. Identifying the mechanisms within a program or initiative that foster adult students’ success is important for understanding how a program works, the subpopulations who can most benefit, and the most effective design and implementation of the program, including necessary professional development for those involved (Karp 2011). In Table 2, we show how elements of the programs and initiatives discussed above align with adults’ learning preferences and needs, as identified in the literature (e.g., Donaldson and Graham 1999; Donaldson et al. 2000; Kasworm 2003a, 2010; Knowles et al. 2005; Sorey and Duggan 2008). We note, though, that Table 2 focuses on connections between adult learning and the defining elements of each of the programs and initiatives. Depending on design, additional intersections are possible, over and above those noted in Table 2. Reviewing Table 2, we note that credit for prior learning communicates to adults how their academic program is aligned with their lives outside of school (Kamenetz 2011). Accelerated programs recognize adults’ goals and capabilities by offering a learning format that is more intense and a shorter path toward credential attainment (Husson and Kennedy 2003; Kasworm 2003b). Distance learning provides more

Table 2 Alignment of adult students’ learning characteristics and needs with community college programs and initiatives that have strong potential to foster successful academic outcomes of adult undergraduate students

Program or initiative PLA Accelerated programs Distance learning Advising Student success course Learning communities

Adult students’ learning characteristics and needs in postsecondary educational context Connection to Learning that is Classroom as Autonomous real-life relevant to primary place of approaches to experiencesb goalsc engagementd learninga X X X X X

Notes: Donaldson et al. 2000; Kasworm 2010; Knowles et al. 2005 b Donaldson and Graham 1999; Kasworm 2003a; Knowles et al. 2005 c Sorey and Duggan 2008; Knowles et al. 2005 d Donaldson and Graham 1999; Kasworm 2003a a

X

X

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opportunities for adults to practice autonomy in their learning, giving them greater control of when and how to engage in learning activities and coursework (Barak et al. 2016; Bourdeaux and Schoenack 2016). In addition, distance learning capitalizes on adults’ capacity to self-motivate (Yen and Liu 2009). Advising strategies that tailor information and course planning specifically for adults’ goals aligns with their preferences for learning experiences having relevance for their objectives (Giczkowski and Allen 1994; Horn 1997; Knowles et al. 2005; Sorey and Duggan 2008; Sutton 2016). Student success courses and learning communities are effective venues for students to build connections and gain skills because, for adults, the classroom is the primary place of engagement (Donaldson and Graham 1999; Kasworm 2003a). The development of our Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students (MCAS) and the corresponding survey measures were driven by the premise that a better understanding of what it means to be an adult student, and the number of individuals within a college that fit that description, will inform the work of colleges and the resources allocated to support students. Therefore, it is important to identify the connections between the dimensions of the MCAS and the design elements and underlying mechanisms of college programs and initiatives that align with those dimensions. Table 3 illustrates some of the ways in which the programs discussed above – PLA, accelerated learning, distance learning, advising, student success courses, and learning communities – could be or already are tailored to address and support adults’ experiences, responsibilities, and subjective sense of adulthood. As with Table 2, this is not an exhaustive list of connections. Yet, clear connections between MCAS and the programs and initiatives illuminate possible mechanisms underlying the influence of the programs on adults’ outcomes. For example, from a practical standpoint, adult-attentive advising practices mean offering times and formats that are convenient for working and parenting adults. Furthermore, advising techniques that acknowledge, validate, and leverage students’ experience and autonomy can also support students’ subjective sense of adulthood and sense of belonging in college. Together, Tables 2 and 3 summarize our findings from the literature about what it means to be an adult, what can increase adults’ opportunities for success in community college, and how colleges can create, modify, or refine their services and structures to become more attentive to adult students’ strengths, needs, and goals.

Directions for Future Research and Practice In this chapter, we contributed to theory, research, and practice on facilitating adult community college students’ success by offering the Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students (MCAS) and a corresponding set of survey measures, response categories, and response weighting scheme for identifying adult students and illuminating differences in the characteristics of adult students served across programs and institutions. Improving the identification of adult students will help college administrators understand the scale of adult students’ enrollment and how

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Table 3 How community college programs and initiatives support and align with dimensions of the Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students (MCAS) Program or initiative PLA

Accelerated programs

Distance learning

Advising

Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students dimensions Subjective sense of Experiences Responsibilities adulthood • PLA provides adult • PLA reduces time to • PLA affirms the value students with college graduation, thereby and relevance of adults’ credit for the skills and reducing opportunity prior experiences for knowledge that they costs, helping adults their present pursuits in gained prior to college reenter or advance in the higher education workforce more quickly, and reducing time diverted from other responsibilities, such as work and caregiving • Accelerated programs • Like PLA, accelerated • Accelerated programs allow adult students to programs reduce time to acknowledge the selfcapitalize on time graduation, thereby motivation and mature management, selfreducing opportunity learning and time regulation, and other costs, helping adults management skills of skills gained from their reenter or advance in the adult students experiences and workforce more quickly, maturity to complete a and reducing time program of study more diverted from other quickly responsibilities, such as work and caregiving • Like accelerated • Distance learning • Distance learning programs, distance programs reduce time acknowledges adults’ learning programs spent on campus and capacity for selfallow adult students to conflicts with other directed learning capitalize on time responsibilities that may management, selfhave rigid schedules (e. regulation, and other g., work shifts, caring for skills gained from children), thereby experiences and increasing learning maturity flexibility and opportunity • Adult-attentive • Adult-attentive Adult-attentive advising: advising supports advising helps adult • Offers appointments at adults’ sense of students align their times convenient for autonomy by goals with educational working adults acknowledging that programs while also • Offers virtual advising they may have helping them to to increase flexibility considerable prior capitalize on their • Constructs enrollment experience making accumulated skills to plans that balance the decisions enhance their success in need to reduce time to graduation with the need • Adult-attentive college to fulfill other advising acknowledge nonacademic that adults’ have responsibilities different needs and • Helps adult students goals and greater navigate the (continued)

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Table 3 (continued) Program or initiative

Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students dimensions Subjective sense of Experiences Responsibilities adulthood

Student success course

• Student success courses help adult students understand how to apply their acquired skills and knowledge to their learning and success in college, bridging prior experiences and present academic goals

Learning communities

• Adult-focused learning communities could combine experiential and classroom-based courses to encourage students to build connections between prior experiences and their academic learning

institutional bureaucracy efficiently and identify relevant resources and supports • Student success courses offer content that facilitates adults’ management of nonacademic responsibilities and roles, as well as providing a venue to communicate relevant resources, such as PLA programs, job placement services, affordable childcare services, and online courses or programs • Student success courses help build support networks of students sharing similar life circumstances • Adult-focused learning communities combine courses of different subjects into a scheduled block to help adults maximize the return to their time on campus and complete key courses early, while also building academic collaborations and support networks of students sharing similar life circumstances

responsibilities than do younger students

• Content in student success courses that is specific to adults validates their needs and belonging in college, as well as their capacity to achieve their goals

• Adult-focused learning communities affirm adults’ sense of belonging in college and the value of their goals and investment in their education

adult students are utilizing the institution, and it will inform decisions about institutional programs and initiatives that should be strengthened or deployed in order to help adult students reach their goals. However, additional work is needed to investigate the validity and reliability of the survey items, both generally and across demographic groups. The latter may be especially important in light of variation in how adult roles are perceived and taken up by individuals of different backgrounds.

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We also highlight six programs and initiatives that align with adults’ academic characteristics and needs. Though we identified community college programs and initiatives that have been demonstrated to improve students’ outcomes, we also recommend researchers examine variability in the benefits for adults of different cultural backgrounds or life stages. For example, it may be that student success courses are more beneficial for adults who have been out of formal education for several decades than they are for adults in their late 20s or early 30s. Regarding more immediate measures that colleges could take, we recommend implementing programs and initiatives in alignment with the MCAS (see Table 3). Some of those programs already may be utilized by a college but not necessarily with adult learning in mind. For example, community colleges already may have student success courses but could offer a section tailored for and marketed to adults, which would be a relatively low-cost investment in a college’s current adult students and a possible means of attracting other potential adult learners in the local community. We also recommend that colleges create an institutional adult student advisory board, bringing together student representatives, student service program leadership, faculty representatives, and administrators to guide institutional efforts to support adult students and facilitate understanding of data collected through the MCAS survey instrument about their students’ prior experiences, current responsibilities, and subjective sense of adulthood.

Conclusion Adult students are a diverse group of individuals whose life experiences and responsibilities differentiate them from younger students. In this chapter, we discussed the ways that researchers have conceptualized and operationalized adult undergraduate students. Drawing on prior research, we proposed the Multidimensional Conceptualization of Adult Students (MCAS) and a corresponding set of measures to identify and advance research on adult community college students. We recommend education researchers and practitioners recognize the heterogeneity among adult students and acknowledge that age alone is an insufficient proxy of the motivations, needs, strengths, experiential knowledge, and circumstances that distinguish adult students from their younger peers. Furthermore, adult students have academic engagement styles and learning preferences that often differ from younger students, and these should be prioritized and supported by postsecondary institutions. Given adult students’ diversity and multiple responsibilities, community colleges likely will continue to be their primary point of access to postsecondary education. In that regard, we identified community college programs and initiatives that have potential to foster adult students’ success and that align with their learning preferences, life circumstances, and goals. Our efforts were driven by the objectives of better equipping stakeholders to support adult students and better equipping scholars to study how these and other student success programs can be implemented to greatest effect. Furthermore, our

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recommendations can guide policymakers’ work to identify, fund, and support initiatives and programs that benefit and improve the outcomes of adult students. Research-informed collaboration between state and local policymakers and college leaders can improve adult community college students’ learning experiences, academic outcomes, career opportunities, financial security, and quality of life, as well as strengthen the nation’s workforce. Acknowledgments Work on this paper was supported in part by the Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education, through Grant R305A160156 to Miami University and the University of Michigan. The opinions expressed are those of the researchers and do not represent views of the Institute or the US Department of Education. The authors gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Leigh Arsenault, Mollie Bush, Alfredo Sosa, Kathryn McGrew, and Annabelle Arbogast. The authors also thank James Benson of the Institute of Education Sciences for valuable feedback and support.

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Peter Riley Bahr serves as associate professor in the University of Michigan’s Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education. His research focuses on students’ pathways into and through community colleges and other sub-baccalaureate institutions, and then into the workforce or onto four-year postsecondary institutions. His current work includes a number of federal and foundation-funded investigations. Among these are studies aiming to improve educational and labor market outcomes of students in postsecondary career and technical education, and, separately, to illuminate how noncredit workforce education programs are being utilized by community colleges. His funded research also includes studies seeking to strengthen STEM pathways from community colleges to universities and to optimize developmental education reform in community colleges. Claire A. Boeck is a Ph.D. candidate in the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include discourses about being a “successful” college student, the personalized meaning students attach to attending college, and what and how environmental factors influence students’ expectations of what they will experience in college. Before pursuing the Ph.D., Claire taught humanities courses and served in multiple student support roles at Wilbur Wright College, a community college in Chicago. She thanks the students at that college for continuing to inspire her work. Phyllis A. Cummins is a senior research scholar at Scripps Gerontology Center, Miami University. Her research foci are workforce issues for middle-aged and older workers, including examination of the benefits of ongoing training and workforce development and the role publicly sponsored training programs and community colleges play in facilitating work throughout the life course. Transitions between full-time employment and retirement have become increasingly complex, and research to better understand these phenomena are of great interest to her. An important component of her research is gaining an understanding of the demographic characteristics of middle-aged and older workers, especially those who have experienced cumulative inequality over their life course and are at risk for economic insecurity. She is currently a principal investigator on two grants funded by the Institute of Education Sciences.

Toward a Critical Social Movements Studies Implications for Research on Student Activism in Higher Education Samuel D. Museus and Brenda Jimenez Sifuentez

Contents Defining Social Justice Movements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Outer Edges of Higher Education Research on Campus Activism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Social Movements Theory and Critical Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Social Movements Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Critical Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Brief History of Social Justice Movements in Higher Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Complicating Analysis of Social Justice Movements in Higher Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Toward a Critical Social Movements Studies Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Utilize Catalytic Approaches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Foster Critical Agency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cultivate Solidarity in Social Justice Movements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bolster Social Justice Movement Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Enhance Efficacy Social Justice Movement Strategies and Tactics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Expose How Systems Resist Movements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Expanding Social Movements Research in Higher Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Expanding and Sustaining Movement Activity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Deciphering Impact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Complicating the Role of Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Understanding the Complexities of Strategies and Tactics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Exposing University Resistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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S. D. Museus (*) University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA e-mail: [email protected] B. J. Sifuentez Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR, USA © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 L. W. Perna (ed.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research 36, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-44007-7_4

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Abstract

US higher education has witnessed increased interest in understanding social movements and activism over the last decade. While some higher education researchers have utilized social movements theory and others have applied Critical Theory to the study of college student activism, the full potential of these frameworks in higher education research has yet to be realized. Integrating social movements theory and Critical Theory discourses into the study of social justice movements and activism in the field can create new possibilities. In this chapter, the authors push this theoretical integration further and propose a more robust critical social movements (CSM) studies agenda in the field. Keywords

Critical theory · Social movements · College students · Campus activism

US higher education has witnessed increased interest in understanding social movements and activism over the last decade (Wheatle and Commodore 2019). This trend is partly due to the growing visibility of contentious politics on college campuses and need for institutional leaders to respond to them. Over the last decade, increasing numbers of college students have mobilized to demand that their institutions build more diverse, inclusive, and equitable campuses (American Council on Education [ACE] 2016). In addition, conservative student groups on many campuses have organized to collectively resist the calls for a greater focus on equity and social justice (Burston and Twine 2019; Conner 2020; Ince et al. 2018). These heightened rates of student activism are unlikely to dissipate anytime soon. National surveys of incoming US college students show that students’ commitments to activism are at an all-time high, with approximately 1 out of 11 incoming students expecting to be involved in a protest during college (Higher Education Research Institute 2016). Higher education scholars have built an important foundation of knowledge on campus activism (Barnhardt 2019; DeAngelo et al. 2016; Grim et al. 2019; Haynes et al. 2019; Hope et al. 2016; Linder et al. 2016; Maldonado et al. 2005; Morgan and Davis 2019). Recently, some higher education researchers have utilized social movements theory (Barnhardt 2019; Rhoads et al. 2005) and others have applied Critical Theory (Cho 2018; Desai and Abeita 2017; Hernandez 2016) to the study of college student activism. Yet, we believe the full potential of these frameworks in higher education research has yet to be realized. Integrating Critical Theory and social movements theory discourses into the study of social movements and activism in the field can create new possibilities. We seek to push this theoretical integration further and propose a more robust critical social movements (CSM) studies agenda in the field. We define critical social movements studies as the analysis of how systems of oppression, social structures, and social justice movements all interact to shape each other, with the goal of empowering and liberating historically oppressed populations. As we

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demonstrate, this perspective is both grounded in a moral commitment to social justice aims and examines the complexities of movement dynamics. To advance this conversation, we outline a CSM framework that can guide future scholarly research and discourse on social movements and activism. In doing so, we hope to fill a major theoretical void in the study of social justice movements. We also discuss the proposed framework’s relevance to the study of college student social justice movements in particular. In the following sections, we discuss the approaches taken in existing research on college student activism within the field of higher education and map its outer edges to show how a CSM perspective might extend existing ways of studying student movements and activism in the field. We provide a brief overview of social movements theory and Critical Theory, highlight some of their strengths, and consider how they might complement each other. Next, we offer a brief history of student social justice movements and activism in higher education and discuss how social movements theory and Critical Theory complicate and refine understandings of these historical contexts. In the remainder of the discussion, we utilize social movements theory and Critical Theory to construct and present an integrative CSM framework, as well as discuss its implications for the study of social justice movements and activism in the higher education field. Three caveats are warranted. First, our intent is not to offer an exhaustive review of all relevant bodies of theory and research. Rather, we engage works that are especially useful in understanding how a CSM perspective might enhance knowledge of social movements in higher education and what such an approach might entail. Second, our primary concern is analyzing and responding to the current state of scholarship on social movements within US higher education, but we selectively draw from research of social movements across the globe. Thus, we do not claim that the framework presented herein is equally relevant in other cultural contexts. Third, given that the vast majority of scholarship on activism in higher education examines students, we primarily focus on student movements. However, we recognize that community members, educators, and others all comprise these movements as well. Finally, while college students engage in a wide range of social movements, keeping in line with Critical Theory foundations and philosophies, our central concern is with social justice movements.

Defining Social Justice Movements There is still no consensus around a single definition of social movements, and scholars conceptualize them in different ways (Diani 1992; McAdam 1982; McCarthy and Zald 1977; Meyer 2007; Opp 2009; Snow and Soule 2010; Tilly 2019). Nevertheless, a review of existing definitions of social movements suggests that several key elements characterize them. First, social movements are characterized by collective action (Almeida 2019a, b; Diani 1992; McAdam 1982; Snow and Soule 2010; Tilly 2019). The collective has a set of common political objectives and is often grounded in one or more shared identities. Second, social movements are

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organized to some degree (Almeida 2019a, b; McAdam 1982; McAdam et al. 2003; Snow and Soule 2010). Third, these collectives take action to challenge existing social systems and structures (Almeida 2019a, b; Snow and Soule 2010). Finally, the challenge to existing structures is sustained over time (Almeida 2019a, b; Rojas and King 2019; Snow and Soule 2010). Movements for social justice specifically focus on challenging systems of power and privilege and are geared toward the liberation of historically minoritized and marginalized communities (Kriesi 1995; Larana 2009). These movements are grounded in collective consciousness of how existing systems privilege some groups while denying rights, resources, and opportunities to others (Freire 1996; Solórzano and Bernal 2001). They also recognize that these systems enact violence on oppressed communities. Social justice movements are focused on resisting these systems of oppression and moving beyond them (Kriesi 1995; Larana 2009). Building on prior scholarship (Almeida 2019a, b; Diani 1992; Kriesi 1995; Larana 2009; McAdam 1982; McAdam et al. 2003; Rojas and King 2019; Snow and Soule 2010; Tilly 2019), we define social justice movements as sustained collective actions that challenge existing power structures that dehumanize historically oppressed communities. These movements encompass activities of both advocates who are fighting for systemic change from within mainstream social institutions and activists who mobilize externally to disrupt and challenge existing power structures.

Outer Edges of Higher Education Research on Campus Activism Prior to the 1990s, the small body of higher education research focused on student social justice movements was aimed at discussing and understanding broad trends in activism (Altbach 1979; Altbach and Cohen 1990; Bayer and Dutton 1976). This research highlighted the surge in student activism that emerged during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, sought to understand the impact of this movement, and analyzed the causes of the supposed decline in campus activism after the 1960s. Much of this research was historical, conceptual, and descriptive in nature. Moreover, while taking a macro-level approach to examining college student activism trends, this scholarship arguably adopted a politically neutral stance on campus activism that did not incorporate a thorough critique of the oppressive systems that the movements sought to challenge. We illustrate this point in the following sections. During the 1990s, higher education scholarship on student activism became increasingly focused on the student experience. Scholars progressively framed campus activism as integral to student development (Hamrick 1998; Levine and Cureton 1998; Levine and Hirsch 1991). Higher education researchers in this period also highlighted that college students were increasingly engaged in activism in the form of community service and advocacy for campus diversity and multiculturalism. This shift coincided with postsecondary institutions placing greater emphasis on civic engagement and volunteerism (Hirsch 1993; Rhoads 1997, 1998).

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In the late 1990s, Rhoads (1998) published the groundbreaking book Freedom’s Web, which was one of the first contemporary comprehensive accounts of college student activism through the eyes and voices of students. Rhoads provided an indepth analysis of how student activists in the 1990s built on the efforts of social movements and activists in the 1960s to advance the ongoing civil rights project. He also highlighted how student activist voices could shed light on larger political issues. Specifically, he employed their voices to challenge conservative dismissals of identity politics as self-centered by underscoring how student activism grounded in identity politics advanced larger goals of systemic transformation. Since Freedom’s Web, several scholars have centered student social justice activists’ voices in their work (e.g., DeAngelo et al. 2016; Haynes et al. 2019; Hope et al. 2016; Linder et al. 2016; Maldonado et al. 2005; Morgan and Davis 2019; Quaye 2007). By and large, these scholars have focused on understanding students’ experiences participating in social justice activism and how they engage in forms of resistance to oppression. Thus, compared to their predecessors, higher education scholars studying social justice activism in the 1990s and beyond have focused on more experiential analyses and centered the voices of students from historically oppressed communities. These shifts are not surprising, given that psychological research on individual developmental processes has heavily shaped the study of college students. As we discuss later in this chapter, higher education research on student activists has greatly contributed to the field, but we believe there is room for growth. Due in part to higher education scholars’ disproportionate focus on individual processes and experiences, with few exceptions (e.g., Barnhardt 2014; Rhoads et al. 2005), they give little attention to larger systemic dynamics of contentious politics. For example, higher education researchers have been slow to invest their energies in empirical analyses of the impact of political opportunity structures, campus networks and organizations, and differential utilization of strategies and tactics on larger student movement efficacy and outcomes. Similarly, with few exceptions (Davis and Harris 2015; Hoffman and Mitchell 2016; Squire et al. 2019), scholars within the field of higher education have not critically examined the ways in which systems respond, adapt to, and suppress social justice movements. A more thorough engagement of social movements theory and Critical Theory in the study of campus activism within higher education has the potential to catalyze the formation of more complex and robust bodies of knowledge about the relationships among national and state sociopolitical contexts, institutions of higher education, social movements, and individual activists.

Social Movements Theory and Critical Theory Social movements theory and Critical Theory are both characterized by extensive bodies of knowledge. Both theoretical perspectives offer valuable insights that can inform the study of social movements and activism in higher education. The former brings into focus complex dynamics among various organizations and social actors

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to advance a more holistic understanding of social movements, while the latter challenges researchers to ensure that their approaches have a positive moral impact on social systems within which they are embedded.

Social Movements Theory Social movements theory refers to a body of knowledge that emerged in the fields of sociology and political science and seeks to explain social movements. Social movements theory scholars have constructed an expansive body of theoretical and empirical knowledge on the causes, dynamics, and consequences of a wide range of movements (Almeida 2019a, b; Diani 1992; Jasper 2008; Tarrow 1998; McAdam 1982; Meyer 2007; Snow and Soule 2010; Tilly 2019). This knowledge can be parsed into three categories: • Movement life cycles: Social movements theory examines the factors that permit or catalyze micro-mobilization (individual participation in movements) and mass mobilization (collective action) processes. For example, they analyze how political threats, political opportunities, and movement resources lead to movement formation and continuation. In addition, social movements theory scholars examine how and why movements spread and decline over time. • Movement strategies and tactics: Social movements theory analyzes movement strategies, such as how movements strategically frame issues to mobilize people to support their causes or influence public opinion to advocate for policy changes. Social movements theory scholars also underscore and analyze the effectiveness of social movement actors’ tactical repertoires, which include a range of tactics from disruptive (e.g., staging a protest or sit-in) to conventional (e.g., speaking at a public meeting or disseminating pamphlets) in nature (Jasper 2008; Tarrow 1998). Finally, this scholarship examines the efficacy of the institutionalization of movements. • Impact of movements: Social movements theory examines whether, to what degree, and how social movements shape individual lives, societal cultures (e.g., perspectives and behavior of a generation or population), and policies. Social movements theory also acknowledges the complexities of social systems and prompts scholars to take these intricacies into account. For example, Fligstein and McAdam (2011) proposed a theory of strategic action fields. The theory describes social life as a complex web of intersecting fields that consist of incumbents who possess disproportionate power and make rules that protect their interests, governance structures that enforce rules that maintain the status quo, and challengers who contest the order of things. Such perspectives can be particularly useful for understanding the dynamics of social systems because they reject the notion of a singular hegemonic state and can prompt a more nuanced analysis of power structures. In doing so, they promote a more multifaceted study of the complexities of webs of power and how they interact to subjugate oppressed communities within and across societies.

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However, while social movements theory researchers engage macro-level systems in their analysis, they often do not take an explicit political stance on systemic oppression and politics. As a result of this assumed neutrality, social movements theory scholarship often clarifies how it advances knowledge while falling short of explicitly elucidating whether and how it contributes to social justice objectives to eradicate systemic oppression or advance the emancipation of marginalized communities. As a result, social movements theory might not adequately capture the realities of marginalized communities or provide room for researchers who are motivated to advocate with them.

Critical Theory Critical Theory was born in the Frankfurt School, where scholars developed theoretical foundations and perspectives to examine the dynamics of systemic oppression for the purposes of emancipation (Horkheimer 1993). While the term “Critical Theory” is often associated with the Frankfurt School, it is also utilized to categorize a wide range of theoretical perspectives that align with these goals, including Critical Race Theory, Feminist Theory, Queer Theory, and Post-Colonial Theory. While a comprehensive review of these areas of Critical Theory is beyond the scope of the current discussion, Critical Theory scholarship that is focused on understanding the impact of neoliberalism on society and higher education is especially relevant to our analysis. Today, much Critical Theory analysis advances a critique of neoliberalism, which can be understood as an ideology that permeates societal structures and individual and collective logics (Ayers 2005; Brown 2006). Whereas capitalism prioritizes free markets and choice over state intervention, neoliberalism transcends economic systems to infuse free-market rationalities into all political and social spheres of society (Giroux 2011; Harvey 2007; Slaughter and Leslie 1997). As neoliberal ideologies permeate political and social systems and reorganize them around freemarket logics, they divert attention and energy away from moral imperatives (Giroux 2008; Harvey 2007; Slaughter and Leslie 1997). These neoliberal ideologies and structures generate logics that permeate institutional and individual values, views, and behaviors. At an institution level, neoliberal logics espoused by incumbents, or those who wield significant power in a field, work to maintain the status quo (Slaughter and Rhoades 2004). At the individual level, these logics become embedded in people’s cognitive structures and worldviews, making them extremely difficult to recognize, challenge, and change (Brown 2006; Museus 2020b). Neoliberalism and the structures that emerge from it concentrate control over economic resources, political power, and social life in the hands of a few while exploiting the vast majority of society (McChesney 1998). While neoliberalism cannot be encapsulated in any single definition, research that critiques neoliberal systems reveals several common elements of it. Based on prior literature (Adsit et al. 2015; Burford 2017; Darder 2012; Davies 2005; Giroux 2008;

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McChesney 1998; Morrison 1993; Muehlebach 2013), Museus and LePeau (2019) offered the following dominant elements of neoliberal ideologies and logics: • Consumerism: Neoliberal ideologies prioritize individual choice in a market of goods and services, and determine the worth of people, actions, and values by how much revenue they can generate in a consumer market. Views and behaviors that are consistent with these consumer logics are glorified. • Competitive individualism: Neoliberalism is grounded in the values of freemarket competition, which reifies misleading beliefs in meritocracy and encourages people to prioritize their individual self-interest. • Surveillance: Neoliberalism’s focus on individual choice generates a false sense of autonomy, as its fuels the creation of surveillance systems (of monitoring, evaluation, and reporting) to ensure compliance with neoliberal ideals. These systems of surveillance erode trust within the system. (e.g., monitoring and reporting) to ensure that members of the system comply with neoliberal ideals, and trust is eradicated; • Precarity: Neoliberal systems make resources scarce and place the burden of fiscal sustainability on individuals, leading to people perceiving themselves to be in a perpetually precarious position and channel their energy on fighting for their own survival. • Declining Morality: In promoting a hyper-focus on fiscal stability, revenue generation, and the accumulation of prestige and profits, neoliberal ideologies detract attention and energy away from developing public institutions responsible for the public good. Since neoliberalism rose to prominence in the 1970s, scholars have documented its spread throughout societies across the globe, including Asia (Hadiz 2006), the Middle East (Bogaert 2013), Africa (Narsiah 2002), Australia and New Zealand (Davies and Bansel 2007), Latin America (Klak 2014; Silva 2009), Europe (Warlouzet 2017), and North America (Davies 2005). In the USA and arguably a large portion of the world, neoliberalism now permeates every aspect of society. In addition, it is important to note that neoliberalism is intertwined with other forms of systemic oppression, including White supremacy, settler colonialism, and cis-heteropatriarchy (Goldberg 2009; Inwood 2015; van Heerden 2016; Paperson 2017). While Critical Theory is focused on both critiquing neoliberalism and other forms of systemic oppression and advancing emancipation efforts to move beyond current oppressive regimes (Freire 1996; Horkheimer 1993), scholars note that it is often preoccupied with critique and falls short of providing insights regarding how oppressed peoples can effectively challenge existing hegemonic systems and structures (Schlosberg 1995). For example, it is common to encounter Critical Theory analyses that provide deep insight into the ways in which social structures perpetuate systemic violence, followed by relatively broad recommendations around the need for education that is more focused on democracy. This reality could partly be due to Critical Theory’s philosophical foundations and focus on broad goals of emancipation rather than pursuit of specific concrete objectives (Horkheimer 1993).

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Explicitly integrating social movements theory and Critical Theory into a unified analytical framework can prompt more holistic critical analysis of the intersection between social systems and movements (Cini and Guzmán-Concha 2017). In addition, such efforts can generate a more cohesive picture regarding how knowledge of social movements can inform efforts to combat systemic forms of oppression and inform social justice efforts. It is worth noting that both of these theoretical knowledge bases are underutilized, even if increasingly deployed, among higher education scholars. This underutilization means that much of what scholarly communities know about systemic oppression and social movement dynamics has yet to be fully engaged and their benefits have yet to be realized in the field of postsecondary education.

A Brief History of Social Justice Movements in Higher Education While social activism has existed for centuries in the USA (Altbach 1979; Astin et al. 1975; Broadhurst 2014; Hamrick 1998), it was the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s that inspired the eruption of some of the most well-known and studied social justice movements. These movements included the American Indian, Asian American or Yellow Power, Black Power, Chicano, Third World Liberation Front, queer and trans* rights, and women’s liberation movements. During this time, college campuses also witnessed heightened levels of critical consciousness and mass mobilization (Rhoads 2016). Within higher education, Ferguson (2017) notes three student movements that were especially noteworthy in the mid-twentieth century. In 1968, the Black Student Union and the Third World Liberation Front, a multiracial coalition of activists at San Francisco State University and the University of California at Berkeley, mobilized to demand a higher education that more effectively served their communities. Their top demand was to create a School of Ethnic Studies, which was established at San Francisco State University shortly thereafter. In 1969, the Lumumba-Zapata Coalition at the University of California at San Diego organized to demand that the new college under construction at the university be dedicated to providing education relevant to racially minoritized youth. The same year, Black and Puerto Rican students at City College in New York organized to demand education relevant to their communities. These demands sparked a wave of protests, demonstrations, sitins, and teach-ins on college campuses across the nation (Ferguson 2017). Some have argued that the visibility of mass protests and confrontational politics declined throughout US society between the early 1970s and 1990s (Altbach 1979; Altbach and Cohen 1990). Similarly, they note that confrontational politics and protests on college campuses decreased during this so-called period of apathy (Altbach 1979). However, college students continued to mobilize during this time period. For example, in the late 1970s and 1980s, activists intensified pressures for public postsecondary institutions to divest from corporations and businesses that operated in South Africa to protest their apartheid system (Soule 1997). In these years, student activists pressured universities that were investing their endowments in such companies to divest from them. Similarly, in the 1990s, students mobilized to

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protest the Persian Gulf War, World Trade Organization, sweatshops, attacks on affirmative action, inadequate support for ethnic studies programs, graduate student labor organizing, and widespread tuition i