An Insider's View Regarding College Persistence in AAPI Community | Chinese-American Planning Council
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An Insider's View Regarding College Persistence in AAPI Community


College transition is a stressful stage for any young person, but how would the experience differ for youth coming from a minority background? Or from an immigrant household? Or as a first-generation college student?

The Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) partnered with the EastBridge Foundation (EBF) to address these concerns among low-income Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) youth in New York City (NYC) through assessing college readiness, persistence, and success. Our goal is to identify factors that influence college retention among disadvantaged AAPI youth and develop programs to improve graduation success.

In 2018, CPC’s Project Gateway and EBF collaborated to hold focus groups and administer online surveys of AAPI college students to find the answers. Our research results showed that most students felt academically prepared but fewer felt socially prepared for college. These findings support a need to build resilience for high school students transitioning into college through an improved understanding of anticipated social changes before college and increased social and academic support during college.

During August of 2018, CPC administered two focus groups; one targeting incoming freshmen and another targeting rising sophomore college students, to assess the key influencers of perceptions of college and college decisions. Upon analysis of the focus groups involving 6 and 8 participants, respectively, there were prevalent negative perceptions associated with college such as feelings of stress, nervousness, uncertainty, etc. Both groups felt having a network of upperclassmen or mentors could help with practical skills in transitioning to college such as time management, balancing social life with academic life and how to navigate college information and resources.

Following the two focus groups, an online survey was administered to 81 incoming freshmen and 81 second-year college students in September 2018. Findings from the survey echoed those of the focus groups, with prevalent negative perceptions of the college experience across both groups. Although most identified negative perceptions of college were more prevalent amongst incoming freshmen, 61.7% of both first and second-year student cohorts indicated having feelings of being “overwhelmed” about college. All positive feelings about college e.g., being excited, happy and feeling proud did not improve, and actually declined amongst the rising sophomores.  In addition, survey findings indicated that there was a discrepancy in understanding the correlation between college majors and career professions. In the survey, 30% of incoming freshman and 19% of sophomore students are uncertain of their intended college major while 49% of freshman and 43% of sophomores were unsure of their intended professions.

Upon careful cross analysis and the discussions regarding the research conducted, CPC and EBF decided to take the initiative in piloting our first collaborative college resilience program, PG: College Connect (PG: CC), which is operated by a student-led council; College Advisory Council (CAC). PG: CC’s objectives are to promote college resilience and graduation success amongst the AAPI population. We aim to empower community members through preparing high school students in their transition to college/university. Through PG: CC, CPC, and EBF aim to facilitate a smoother social and academic transition to college which will result in a more positive and successful college experience. CAC members will lead this new initiative through sharing their experience and managing program activities for PG: CC with the support of CPC and EBF.

The CAC members had their first meeting on March 8th, 2019. PG: CC will launch in the summer of 2019.

Full manuscript on research statistics and program outcomes TBD.

EastBridge Foundation is a nonprofit private operating foundation (501c3) established in the State of Pennsylvania whose purpose is to advance equity in health, and education for economically disadvantaged individuals and immigrant populations.

Chinese-American Planning Council, Inc. (CPC) is a 501 ©(3) not-for-profit corporation organized under the New York State not-for-profit corporation law. CPC’s mission is to promote social and economic empowerment of Chinese-American, immigrant, and low-income communities.