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The Social Prerequisites of Success: Can College Structure Reduce the Need for Social Know-How? (WP-02-30)

Regina Deil-Amen and James E. Rosenbum

Interviews with staff and students in 14 colleges find that low-income and first-generation community college students often lack certain “social know-how,” leading them to make mistakes that can affect their college persistence. This paper describes structural and cultural qualities of the community colleges studied that reinforce this disadvantage. Some private occupational colleges that have devised structures and practices that reduce students’ need for this social know-how are presented as a contrast. We speculate about whether these practices might be implemented in community colleges.

Regina Deil-Amen, Education Policy Studies, Penn State University

James E. Rosenbum, Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University

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