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The federally funded Ronald B. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program (McNair Program) prepares first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented college undergraduates to pursue terminal graduate degrees. This study examines 22 McNair scholars’ transitions into graduate school in an attempt to identify factors that influence alumni persistence and matriculation. The participants in this study were alumni from a mid-sized, Northwestern university's McNair Program. During interviews, participants identified significant "learning curves" experienced in graduate school. Five themes, representing 14 learning curves, emerged: academic readiness, weaving a supportive web, managing the clock, being accepted, and staying financially fit. Researchers incorporated identified learning curves into an on-line survey sent to each participant.

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This is an electronic version of an article published in Equity & Excellence in Education, Volume 44, Issue 2, 153-168. Equity & Excellence in Education is available online at: DOI: 10.1080/10665684.2011.558416