Getting poor students to college isn't just about affordability. It's about access. (+video)
Students from low-income communities need the same mentoring, leadership opportunities, and support through the college application process as their higher-income peers. Strategic partnerships between K-12 schools and local colleges are a key part of this exposure.
Even with seesawing reports on whether the economy is getting better or worse, one factor remains constant. Many people assume the persistently high unemployment rates mean America needs more job creation. That may be partly true, but here’s a surprising fact: Millions of Americans need good jobs, but millions of high-paying jobs are going unfilled because there aren’t enough people with the skills and education to do them.
Much of the discussion about how to address this mismatch revolves around how to make higher education more affordable for children from low-income families, who represent one of the fastest growing demographics in the country.
But affordability is only part of the battle. Too many of America’s children aren’t worried about the cost of higher education because they can’t even imagine attending college in the first place. To improve educational access, students from low-income communities need the same mentoring, leadership opportunities, and support through the college application process as their higher-income peers. Strategic partnerships between K-12 schools and local colleges are a key part of this exposure.
Think of the way the typical college search and admissions process happens for children from upper income households. By 9th grade, most of these young people are already aware of Advanced Placement courses, extracurricular activities, recommendation letters, and other factors that lead to college acceptance. In the next year or so, they begin receiving direct mail publications from colleges that target full-pay applicants. Their parents and other family members see higher education as a given, and work closely with them throughout the admissions process to make sure they look as good as possible to prospective colleges.
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