Impact of Campus Support Programs on Students with Histories of Foster/Relative Care and Homelessness
A recent study led by Dr. Lisa Schelbe looked at how campus support programs for students with a history of foster, relative care, and homelessness impacted college students. Along with her colleague Lisa Jackson senior program director of Academic Support and Engagement at the Unconquered Scholars Program (USP) at FSU Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE) at Florida State Program, she started following USP students for the year after graduation.
“The majority of research done on campus support programs often targeted understanding student experiences during their time on campus, but little is known about how students fare after graduate,” said Dr. Schelbe, an associate professor at the FSU College of Social Work. “We aimed to see what life is like after graduation for these students.”
Campus support programs like USP offer various services and activities to help them navigate college, establish relationships, and make the most of their time in school. The study highlighted the resilience as well as the challenges faced by these students.
“Campus support programs represent an important support structure for students new to campus life who may lack some of the social support and resources of their peers,” explained Lisa Jackson, a co-author of the study. “Students receive a variety of services and activities via campus support programs that help them adapt to the challenges of higher education, a time of intense transition.”
Dr. Schelbe’s team examined the experiences of students who participated in the Unconquered Scholars Program the year after graduation.
The study’s findings indicated that a majority of the students felt confident about feeling prepared for graduation and finding employment. Participants frequently reported positive outcomes for work and school, the stability of their situations to meet basic needs, and their relationships with partners, friends, and family.
“Our findings highlighted a lot of positives and tremendous grit, resilience, and optimism, but we still noted a trend in the obstacles students faced after graduation,” Lisa Schelbe shared. “Many participants still reported struggling with money management and life skills, insufficient funds, and adjusting to the uncertainty and change after graduation, including loneliness and navigating relationships. There was also a frequent mention of struggles with seeking work, job satisfaction, and career navigation.”
The study cited previous data that pointed not only to the success of campus support programs but a possible need to extend services and support to ensure students with these life experiences continue a trajectory of success.
The research team came to a similar conclusion, noting that an extension of services related to finances, employment/graduate school, and support could give these students a leg up after graduation as they establish themselves.
“Staying connected with graduates of a campus support program means giving them a lifeline during another period of immense transition for young people, especially those with a history of foster care, relative care, or homelessness,” Lisa Jackson concluded. “Connecting them to existing resources for graduates like career centers, funding opportunities, and mentors ensures that the pathway of success continues. More research is needed, though, on the best ways to support them.”