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Exploring College Readiness: Self-Perceptions of Early College Students

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ABSTRACT EXPLORING COLLEGE READINESS: SELF-PERCEPTIONS OF EARLY COLLEGE STUDENTS by Kim R. Ramsey-White Research shows that too many students are graduating from high school ill-prepared to be successful in the postsecondary environment. This study examined the high school experiences of dual-enrollment students who participated in an Early College High School, and how the students perceived their high school experiences in preparing them for college. Additionally the study sought to understand the role that social capital played in the students’ preparation for college. In-depth interviews with 13 African American students, some of whom were first-generation college attendees, were used to illuminate the student voice in an effort to learn how early college practices and strategies were beneficial and/or detrimental to their preparation for college. Data from the study were analyzed using a college readiness framework developed by David Conley (2007) which focuses on four dimensions of college readiness: (1) Key cognitive strategies, (2) academic content, (3) academic skills and behavior, and (4) contextual skills and awareness. Findings from the study indicate that the students’ Early College High School experiences increased their confidence as college students (key cognitive strategies), taught them the benefits of time management and working in study groups (academic skills and behavior), and provided meaningful relationships and social networks that allowed them to navigate the college application and financial aid processes (contextual skills and awareness). The students also expressed concern that there was very limited alignment between the high school academic courses and expectations and those in the postsecondary institutions they attended. The results of the study contribute to the scholarship on the Early College model.

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