Upward Bound is a national federal program aimed at helping disadvantaged high school students to enroll and succeed in college. The sample selected is nationally representative of this groups and reflects students who participated in the program during the mid-90s.
Eligible UB students had to be low-income or first-generation college attendees and meet other federal qualifications necessary for program participation. Of the student participants, 79% were low-income and potential first-generation college students, about 50% were African American, and 22% were Hispanic at baseline.
Upward Bound offers a variety of academic courses and non-academic activities. Academic courses included English, ESL, Foreign language, Math, Computers, Science, Social Science and electives. English, math, and science had the highest levels of participation for academic courses. Non-academic activities covered college preparedness, career exploration, self-awareness, field trips, cultural awareness, counseling sessions and skill development. College preparedness, counseling sessions and skill development had the highest participation for non-academic courses. Among UB programs in 1995, 68% of projects were hosted by four-year colleges, 28% by two-year colleges, and 4% by CBO's and High Schools. Projects are required to provide 5-8 weeks of service each summer and to reinforce the summer experience with at least weekly services during the school year. On average, Upward Bound participants attended about 265 academic UB sessions; 174 of the sessions occurred during the summer program, and 91 sessions occurred during the academic year. On average, participants attended 212 nonacademic activities sessions, which were equally split across the summer and school year. Among projects nationally, project staff generally hold a bachelor's or graduate degree, many are from the same racial/ethnic group as the majority of their participants.
The counterfactual is absence of Upward Bound. Many of the students assigned to both treatment and control participated in precollege services other than Upward Bound. Also, a footnote on page 5 indicates that there was some degree of crossover between the treatment and control groups (i.e., some of the control groups used UB services). Sensitivity analyses suggested this crossover had no effect on the substantive results.
Support for implementation
Program exposure and intensity varied for study participants, as students can potentially participate all 4 years of high school. Among the study sample, approximately 80% of students assigned to the treatment received some Upward Bound services, while the other 20% never participated in any activities. Of those who did participate, the typical number of months in UB was 19 and about 40% of those who applied for UB in eighth grade or later were still in the program in spring of their senior year of high school. There was large variability in the number of academic sessions attended by participants, the bottom quartile participated in 201 or fewer sessions, while the top quartile participated in 704 or more sessions