Patterns of Academic Risk and Resilience: Post–High School Educational Pathways in the Context of the 2007 Economic Recession

Norma J. Perez-Brena, Samantha Sang, Sally I.Chun Kuo, Sue A. Rodríguez De Jesús, Kimberly A. Updegraff, Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor, Susan M. McHale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Academic resilience reflects individuals’ high levels of achievement and motivation despite the presence of stressful conditions that place them at risk for reduced performance. To understand what informs resilience, this study used narrative data from 274 Mexican-origin late adolescents/young adults (aged 19-25 years) to understand how a sociohistorical context— the 2007 U.S. economic recession — informed their experiences in college engagement and achievement. An inductive approach was used to identify themes based on youth’s narratives. Four themes emerged within the data: inability to pay for education, changes in educational/career goals, prioritizing of resources, and feelings of hopelessness/helplessness. Next, a person-centered approach was used to identify patterns in youth’s theme endorsement. Five patterns of academic resilience were identified: Resource and Knowledge, Grit and Perseverance, Waning Grit, Disengaged, and Disengaged and Hopeless. The qualitative themes and groups supported current perspectives on academic risk and resilience and showcase the need to create an integrated model of academic resilience in higher education that accounts for sociohistorical context, social and academic integration, coping skills, locus of control, and social contractual expectations. Furthermore, this study provides practical recommendations by identifying groups who are at risk for academic disengagement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-380
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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