Former Foster Youth Attending College: Resilience and the Transition to Young Adulthood


College of Social Work, San Jose State University, Washington Square Hall, San Jose, CA 95192-0124. E-mail:


The primary purpose of this study was to further research and theory development in the area of risk and resilience by exploring factors associated with academic success among former foster youth—a group at high risk for developmental failure. Using data obtained from in-depth qualitative interviews with 14 former foster youth currently attending a 4-year university, the study described in this article explored factors related to their academic success. Results indicated that factors at the individual, family, and community levels and encompassing more than 1 system at a time were integral in understanding developmental pathways of these youth. Results further suggested that resilience in 1 developmental or functional domain was not necessarily reflected in others. Findings are discussed in terms of conceptual and theoretical directions for further research in the area of resilience and the transition to young adulthood, with a particular emphasis on former foster youth.