12-01-2021 | Original Paper
“I Needed to Aim Higher:” Former Foster Youths’ Pathways to College Success
Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Child and Family Studies | Uitgave 4/2021Log in om toegang te krijgen
Although former foster youth desire to pursue higher education, childhood trauma and educational instability, among other experiences, contribute to low college enrollment and completion rates. Through the lens of the ecological systems model, the researchers sought to understand the internal and external factors that former foster youth believe have contributed to or impeded their choices to attend and ability to navigate college. Twenty-three former foster youth currently enrolled in a college or university participated in semi-structured interviews that asked them to explain influences on their preparation for pursuing higher education, their decisions to attend college, and their ability to navigate college life successfully. Findings indicated that youth relied on caregivers, high school counselors, social workers, and child welfare staff who prepared them for college and helped make decisions to apply. They also reported internal motivations to attend college. In college, they relied on campus resources (e.g., extra-curricular activities, faculty) to navigate college life. They reported lingering family problems, lack of family support, and racial/ethnic stereotyping on campus that impacted their college experiences. Their stress was managed by seeking counseling and increasing their campus involvement. Implications suggest that supportive resources should be holistic and include pre- and post-college enrollment academic guidance, family and fictive kin support, positive peer relationships, child welfare agency support, and elimination of social stigmas that can undermine youths’ sense of self-efficacy and future. With increased awareness of needs, colleges or universities and professionals will be better equipped to implement targeted supports for this unique, non-traditional population.