Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Anthropology




College preparation programs -- Evaluation, Postsecondary education -- United States, Minority youth -- Education -- United States


The process of defining "postsecondary success" is an integral part of preparing for it. Ultimately, postsecondary success begins as a goal within the formal education system because it denotes success after high school. But then we must ask, "What is the goal of that high school education?" In my time as a research intern with Friends of the Children (FOTC), concepts of productivity, access, and knowledge have all been central to answering this question. On one level, the question has a pragmatic answer: FOTC youth should be able to earn a living wage. On another level, the question is much more abstract because FOTC spends a great deal of energy dedicated to holistic youth development. On this level, postsecondary success is about youth becoming self-actualized, content adults who are capable of supporting themselves materially and emotionally, and able to positively contribute to society.

It is often implied (but not regularly stated) that in the case of class and/or race minority youth postsecondary success involves a battle against marginalization. Thus, I would argue that postsecondary preparation at FOTC should be the holistic way mentors assist youth in reaching new horizons. This is namely about FOTC enabling youth to realistically select from the same options in front of more privileged youth. They should be able to make truly informed choices about how they will spend their time, make a living, and participate in their communities as adults.

In order for education to serve as a tool for social justice in this way, the underbelly of power relations within educational institutions and the professional world must be addressed. In this context, postsecondary preparation is the way mentors can help youth use education as an effective tool in fighting marginalization. This means preparation is both about grade-level readiness and system navigation in light of youth identity.

Based on strong initial feedback from FOTC mentors and other staff, this recommendation will not be about college access alone, but it will be oriented toward allowing youth to choose access to university-level education to the greatest extent possible.


This is a Policy Paper in fulfillment of the M.A. in Anthropology

Persistent Identifier