Postsecondary Transitions & Success

While it’s true that education beyond high school—and earning a credential or two-year or four-year degree—can be an engine of social mobility, it’s true that as many as 40 percent of freshmen who enroll in college never make it to graduation, according to some studies. Students seeking to transition to and succeed in postsecondary programs and institutions of higher education—and eventually to end up in jobs that pay at least a living wage—face daunting challenges, including high costs, new expectations, and accessibility to courses and support that keep them on track. These challenges fall hardest on low-income, non-white and first-generation college students—the same students who have the most to gain from perservering and earning a degree or credential.

As one of our primary focus areas, Education First leverages our experience in practice, policy and research within K12 and higher education to understand where students are coming from (K12, community colleges or from the workforce), what needs they have to be successful in postsecondary education and what skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the workforce. Student-centered needs are at the heart of our approach to supporting postsecondary education leaders, institutions and systems. Looking forward, we are eager to partner with innovators to build strategies, develop programs and initiatives, and turn research and best practice into action to address race and income inequality in the pathway to and through college for all students.

Our core expertise within Postsecondary Transitions & Success includes:

  • P16 alignment/transitions to ensure access and readiness
  • Student supports to ensure access and completion
  • Policies, practices and funding to increase degree completion

Some of the recent ways we have helped policymakers and system leaders improve student access and success in higher education include:

  • We supported the state of California with its Recovery with Equity Taskforce, which was created to work collaboratively to produce a roadmap for the state’s education leaders, government and philanthropic institutions to ensure that California’s public postsecondary institutions recover from the impacts of COVID-19 more integrated, equitable and resilient than before—and more aligned with the economic needs of the state.
  • For the College Futures Foundation, we documented evidence-based policies and practices to increase bachelor’s degree attainment for young men of color and managed a community of practice for another foundation investing in cradle to career collective action.
  • To improve college and career readiness and success in Chicago, we collaborated with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) to develop a Student Success Roadmap to achieve equitable outcomes and success for the city’s most underserved students, focusing on grades 9 through 14, in alignment with local four-year institutions.
  • We supported IDEA Public Schools to evaluate the success of, fine-tune and reimagine its college access and student supports programming.
  • In Oregon, we helped 17 community colleges reimagine developmental education and improve student success.