Our Research

CURRENT AREAS OF RESEARCH

Who We Are

CARA is based at the CUNY Graduate Center, and is part of a consortium of research groups called The Center for Human Environments (CHE). CHE is an alliance of distinct groups committed to research that helps improve the conditions of people’s lives. We do this by working in partnership with, or in support of, institutions/communities/movements that struggle to address social and environmental injustices of all kinds. CHE operates with a high degree of autonomy in the functioning of each group. See here to learn more about CHE.

College-Going Culture: Institutional Support for College Access and Success

How do public high schools develop a college-going culture that promotes equity in college access for traditionally underserved students?

We developed a conceptual framework that bridges theory to practice by concretizing the role of schools as organizational institutional agents in the college planning and application process. We apply this framework to characterize how college-going culture takes root at seven non-selective public high schools in New York City where we conducted ethnographic research over two years amidst a city-wide “college for all” policy shift. Our research brings into focus the types of social and cultural capital schools can deliver as organizational entities that do not reproduce social inequality in post-secondary access.

College-Going Culture: Students’ Navigational Capacity

How do young people develop the capability to successfully navigate the structures, information, and relationships necessary to apply to and enroll in college?

We followed 11 high school seniors at three NYC public schools over the course of their last year of high school, interviewing them every 6-8 weeks as the college application process unfolded. We are examining how the institutional support provided to these students at their high schools becomes incorporated as a form of capital we refer to as navigational capacity, and how the development of this capacity in turn impacts these students’postsecondary pathways.

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Peer-To-Peer: Impact of Peer-to-Peer Advising on Mentors’ College Outcomes

How does working as a near-peer counselor through the College Bridge or College Allies program impact mentors’ own college success?

Using CUNY administrative data, we simulated a natural experiment by matching CARA-trained near-peer counselors to similar peers who did not participate in CARA using propensity-matching procedures. Aggregated across four years of data collected, our results indicate CARA near-peer counselors are nearly twice as likely to persist one year in college (p < .001) as peers who did not participate in CARA but had similar demographic and academic characteristics. Findings are replicated for students of color (2.09 times higher, p < .001) and economically disadvantaged students (1.78 times higher, p = .003). In future research, we plan to look at later college outcomes such as vertical transfer and graduation.

Peer-To-Peer: Transmission of College-Going Cultural Capital Through Peer-to-Peer Advising

What forms of institutional support do peer leaders transmit, and how do these forms of capital differ from adults in terms of impact on students’ college application, transition, and enrollment processes?

What forms of institutional support do peer leaders transmit, and how do these forms of capital differ from adults in terms of impact on students’ college application, transition, and enrollment processes?

See publications