A recent study was done of successful minority college students to determine the best way to improve the performance of black and Latino men.  Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania interviewed 325 high-achieving juniors and seniors from New York City public schools and 90 graduates who were enrolled in college.  Caralee Adams, blogger for Education Week’s College Bound blog, explains in a post that the students shared “how they developed their college goals, prepared for higher education, and navigated what can be a challenging path through high school and on to college.”

All students interviewed were black or Latino males where 94 percent of the student population was black and Latino and 67 percent qualified for free lunch.  These students had maintained a 3.0 GPA, were involved in extra-curricular activities, planned to attend college, and had taken college-prep courses.  Researchers noted that the school culture strongly encouraged going to college and that many of these students stayed as late as 6:00 or 7:00 most days in the schools that “were just as vibrant at 5 o’clock as at 2.”


The high school students indicated the following as the reasons for their success:

  • Consistently high expectations from parents and family;
  • Meaningful relationships with caring teachers and other adults in their school who promoted a college-going culture;
  • A desire to transcend poverty; and
  • The ability to develop positive reputations that kept gang members from recruiting them.


College students cited these factors as the reasons for their success:

  • About three-quarters of the young men were mainly aware of public college in New York so that was only where they applied;
  • They felt intellectually prepared for college;
  • Most did not feel ready for other aspects of campus life, including meeting deadlines and multi-tasking;
  • Few students had built substantive relationships with professors; and
  • About 47 percent earned a college GPA above a 3.0, but most experienced a slight drop in grades compared with high school.