Beating the Odds in Pursuit of Education and Career Success

Navigating education and career paths involves making choices and meeting challenges along the way to achieving goals. Young people from underserved populations are particularly vulnerable to the challenges that can interfere with navigating their paths effectively. In 2017, ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning, with advisory support from Better Make Room, fueled the Roadtrip Nation Beating the Odds Roadtrip which was a real-world opportunity for three underserved college students (roadtrippers) to journey across the U.S. and interview inspiring professionals (leaders) who overcame past obstacles and achieved education and career success. As the roadtrippers talked with leaders about life lessons and empowering success stories, they gained insights to how to beat the odds.

Both the leaders and the roadtrippers faced common navigation challenges. The leaders overcame these challenges and provided roadtrippers with new perspectives on dealing with their own challenges. The leaders identified factors critical to beating the odds and education and career navigation success, including interests/passions, goals, fit, experiences, role models, and supports. The leaders also took actions related to college and career planning, invested effort in coping with negative situations and obstacles, developed and applied positive mindsets, and built a strong sense of self. There were strong connections between the factors and actions leading to the leaders’ success and the roadtrippers’ insights. These connections suggest that the Beating the Odds Roadtrip was a positive influence on these underserved youth. Read 2017 Beating the Odds Roadtrip: Report of Findings.

Through this unique and innovative partnership between ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning and Roadtrip Nation, we believe the findings uncovered by ACT Research lay the groundwork for further understanding the factors and actions that support beating the odds in pursuit of education and career success. to watch the Beating the Odds roadtrip documentary, access the infographics and research insights collected from this work, and review recommendations for parents, teachers, counselors, advisors and policymakers to help empower young people to achieve their education and career goals, visit our Beating the Odds landing page.