What social processes facilitate educational attainment among low-income families with no history of higher education? And, how can interventions be designed by reformers and supported by policymakers to accelerate these processes? Th ese are critical questions because the majority of low-income students either drop out of high school or, if they graduate, fail to enroll in college. In fact, only about half of the low-income students who graduate from high school prepared for college, based on national standards, actually enroll in 4-year colleges (Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, 2002). Aft er a quarter century of policies that promote simplistic school reforms like imposing higher graduation standards as solutions to the access challenge, there is greater inequality in postsecondary opportunity now than there was in the 1970s. To make the new college preparatory high school system work better for underrepresented students and to increase their chances of academic success in college, we need to consider how to facilitate the social aspects of academic transitions for low-income and fi rst-generation college students.