On My Own

On My Own The Challenge and Promise of Building Equitable STEM Transfer Pathways

Xueli Wang
paper, 272 Pages
Pub. Date: April 2020
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-489-2
Price: $33.00

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cloth, 272 Pages
Pub. Date: April 2020
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-490-8
Price: $64.00

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Pub. Date: April 2020
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-491-5

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2020 ASHE Council for the Advancement of Higher Education Programs (CAHEP) Barbara Townsend Lecture Award
2021 Transfer Champion-Catalyst Award from the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS)
2021 Outstanding Publication Award, AERA Division J Publication and Research

On My Own: The Challenge and Promise of Building Equitable STEM Transfer Pathways is the first book of its kind to provide a detailed, on-the-ground examination of the difficult paths—curricular, interpersonal, and institutional—that students must chart through community college. The book follows 1,670 two-year college students over four years as they begin STEM programs in the Midwest and documents their educational and life experiences as they moved toward, or away from, the prospect of transfer to a four-year institution. Their stories reveal that they were on their own, left to navigate the pathways to transfer without meaningful institutional support.


In this remarkably rich analysis, Xueli Wang shows that community college students are highly motivated to work hard and earn degrees, but their momentum is thwarted by friction they encounter in and outside of the classroom. Using stories from students, Wang provides insight into steps colleges can take to propel students on a path to success. — Davis Jenkins, senior research scholar, Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University

On My Own illustrates the tenacity of first-generation, low income, and students of color traversing higher learning in spite of structural stratification and inconsistent supports. This book is full of incredibly rich and deeply moving findings. It offers a sage call to action to those of us who want to enact transformative change and equitable student outcomes. All told, Wang has written a must-read primer for improving and diversifying STEM pathways. — Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher, professor of Higher Education/Community College Leadership and director of the Office for Community College Research and Leadership, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Xueli Wang weaves a masterful story about the lives and journeys of transfer students based on rigorous, longitudinal data. The students’ voices draw you in, and you are rooting for their success. Wang issues a compelling call to action to support all students. — Pamela L. Eddy, professor of higher education, William & Mary, School of Education

Filled with students’ voices expressing their own experiences, this is a rich resource for academic advisors, STEM faculty, policy makers, and researchers in education. — Choice

We are at the time when the nation needs to expand the transfer pathway from two-year to four-year institutions; this book offers timely information about the current status quo as well as a grounded discussion about possible directions for future conversations and improvements. — Teachers College Record

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About the Author

Xueli Wang is a professor of higher education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin– Madison. She studies college students’ learning, experiences, pathways, and success, with a particular focus on community colleges and STEM education. Her longitudinal, mixed methods research has addressed inequities in access to transfer, particularly in STEM fields, as well as how faculty development translates into teaching practices that subsequently shape students’ experiences and outcomes. Dr. Wang has received multiple awards for her research and teaching. She was selected as a Young Academic Fellow in 2012 by the Institute of Higher Education Policy and the Lumina Foundation. She is a two-time recipient of the Charles F. Elton Best Paper Award by the Association for Institutional Research. In 2015, she was honored with the Barbara K. Townsend Emerging Scholar Award by the Council for the Study of Community Colleges. In her department at UW–Madison, she has been honored with the Teacher of the Year award six times since 2012.

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