Starting from the belief that high schools and colleges need to see it as their job to educate young people about postsecondary pathways, CARA explores how institutions and policies can change to better support students through the varied steps to defining and realizing their postsecondary goals. Our research in and with our partner sites provides a critical window into how to create the infrastructure needed to do this work and the specific policies and practices that facilitate and/or hinder progress.

Policy Brief Cover

Organizing for Access: Building School Capacity to Support Students’ Postsecondary Pathways

Report: CARA (2020)
Blog series: NCAN (2024)

This report – and accompanying blog series – is the result of three years of research at 7 NYC public high schools working to improve their postsecondary planning infrastructure. It explores the challenges schools face and surfaces successful practices for curriculum implementation, professional development, and college counseling support.

Featured Publications

Widening Postsecondary Pathways in High Schools: Insights from NYC Educators

“Notes from the Field” Report: CARA (2023)

In 2022-23, New York City launched a set of programs to deepen schools’ focus on career pathway preparation. Drawing on conversations with educators at nine partner high schools, this report describes the promise that educators see in this shift, along with suggestions to ensure these new initiatives are implemented equitably and effectively.

Leading for College and Career Access: Six Strategies to Make Change Stick

Article: Principal Leadership (2023)

Having a committed leader is essential for the success of a high school’s postsecondary access program. The question is: what qualities does a leader need to do this work? Based on work with eight exceptional school leaders, this article describes the key knowledge and skills they have used to develop postsecondary access infrastructure in their schools.

Obstacles & Opportunities: Supporting College and Career Access for Adolescent Immigrant Students

Report: CARA (2023)

Students who immigrate to the United States in adolescence face the daunting task of quickly learning a new language, culture, and education system by the end of high school. Drawing on two dozen interviews with counselors, school leaders & students, this report describes four key obstacles and opportunities for better supporting adolescent immigrant students’ postsecondary paths.

What the Pandemic Can Teach Us About FAFSA Completion

Report: CARA (2021)

In this research on FAFSA completion during the pandemic, we find most students at our partner schools who are skipping FAFSA are doing so because they are undocumented, they have career plans that do not involve college, or they are unlikely to receive substantial financial aid.

The role of institutional agents in promoting higher education success among first-generation college students

Article: Journal of Diversity in Higher Education

This study finds that institutional agents, specifically college faculty, play a significant role in first-generation students’ success by imparting intellectual capital and institutional resources critical to navigating higher education.

(Mis)reading social class in the journey towards college: Youth development in urban America

Article: Teachers College Record (2007)

Drawing on research conducted at three small urban public schools over the course of a year, this article offers an important lens on the ways that social class shapes students’ developmental experiences and choices, paving some roads and obstructing easy access down others.