Risk, resilience and protective factors in college enrollment, persistence and degree attainment trajectories of African American youth
Tekleselassie, Abebayehu Aemero
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Grounded in risk and resiliency's theory, the present study explores determinants of success in African Americans' longitudinal trajectories to college outcomes, namely, college enrollment, college persistence and degree attainment, with Whites taken as contrasting groups. The study's major research questions (1) examine the status of racial and gender differences in success at major sages in college outcomes; (2) explore racial and gender differences in potential predictors of success with home, school, postsecondary and financial aid factors taken into account and; (3) assess the effects of potential predictors on the three college outcomes for Blacks and Whites and males and females. The study depends on data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study (1988/2000) restricted data files and uses chi-square, t-test, binomial, multinomial and hierarchical generalized logistic regressions for analyzing the data. Consistent with existing literature, the study shows significant variations in college outcomes by race and gender, indicating Whites' advantage over Blacks and females' advantage over males. Like college outcomes, where racial and gender differences exist in risk factors and potential predictors of success, these differences are mixed. For example, despite coming from a higher at-risk status, Blacks and females compare well or even in part exceed Whites in most home process factors. Unlike home process factors, however, differences in school process factors (such as teachers' expectations, enrollment into intensive curricular track, etc.) and postsecondary factors favor Whites over Blacks and females over males. Differences in the receipt of financial aid, however, echo differences in home background factors and therefore favor Blacks over Whites and females over males. The estimated effects of home, school, postsecondary and financial aid factors on the three college outcomes also differ by race and gender. The study points out that, whereas home background and school demographic factors help mitigate the racial gap in college outcomes (thus enhancing resilience), they are unable to close the gender gap, particularly against Black males. Instead, home and school process factors appear to have a significant effect on dissipating part of the gender gap in college outcomes. In contrast, the award of financial aid appears to have an insignificant effect on closing both the racial and the gender gap in college outcomes.