Looking for a Way to Boost College Persistence

It’s great to get low-income students to college, but what if they drop out during their first year? What is the difference between those students who persist in college and those who do not? A new study revealed that the persistence rate in college from participants of a program that engages them to work in meaningful internships during high school is greater than it is for their peers.

“Once students experience professional success while in high school, continuing on a path to a lifetime of low-wage occupations is no longer an option, so when the going gets tough in college, they stay determined to succeed,” said Rafael Alvarez, Founder and CEO of Genesys Works www.genesysworks.org (www.genesysworks.org).

Genesys Works is a 501c3 organization located in Houston, Texas, Chicago, Ill., and Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn., that provides underprivileged high-school seniors with meaningful internships in Fortune 500 and other major companies. With data provided by Genesys Works and Houston Independent School District, researchers from the Texas Schools Project at The University of Texas at Dallas conducted a review and analysis of the impact of the Genesys Works internship program on a student’s persistence beyond the first year of college.

The study found that 92 percent of program completers pursued a college education, and 86 percent persisted after their first year in college, as compared to their peers in the same schools, 50 percent of whom went on to college, and 41 percent persisted beyond year one.

These results suggest that the Genesys Works model can be a possible solution to alleviate the nationwide challenge associated with students persisting with their college education.

This also provides further support for two Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reports that argue that vocational education that combines formal education and actual work experience is a highly effective method of learning that exceeds classroom education only. The Pathways to Prosperity Study released by the Harvard Graduate School of Education concludes that “if we could develop an American strategy to engage educators and employers in a more collaborative approach to the education and training of the next generation of workers, it would surely produce important social as well as economic returns on investment.”

“Given that this is precisely what Genesys Works is trying to accomplish, the findings of this report lend support to the argument that programs like this are likely to yield high returns,” said Dr. Nidhi Mehrotra, lead investigator for the project at the University of Texas Dallas.

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