Often it isn’t enough for a low-income high school grad who wants to go to college to have terrific grades. Many don’t know much about higher-education options or how to apply for financial aid — especially if they come from families where no one else has gone to college.
Fortunately, there are an increasing number of programs to provide the missing support. David Leonhardt at the NY Times reports on one such effort.
“The United States fails to do right by most low-income students who excel in school. They overcome long odds and do well enough in high school to show they can thrive in college. Nevertheless, many never receive a bachelor’s degree. Now, though, the country may be approaching something of a turning point.
“As data has made clear how many top-performing students from poor and middle-class families fall through the cracks, a range of institutions have set out to change the situation. Dozens of school districts, across 15 states, now help every high school junior take the SAT. Delaware’s governor has started a program to advise every college-qualified student from a modest background on the application process. The president of the College Board, which administers the SAT and has a decidedly mixed record on making college more accessible, says his top priority is college access.
“[Yesterday], a handful of institutions [announced] an ambitious new effort on this front. Led by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the coalition is setting a specific goal for which it can be held accountable. Today, only about one in three top-performing students from the bottom half of the income distribution attends a college with a high six-year graduation rate (at least 70 percent). Within five years, the Bloomberg coalition wants to raise that to one in every two students….
“The crux of the new effort will be college counselors, available to advise students on where and how to apply, both for admission and for financial aid. The coalition – which includes Khan Academy, the College Board, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and others – will ultimately hire 130 full-time counselors and enlist 4,000 college students as part-time advisers. Using video chat, email, telephone and text, they will mimic the support network — composed of guidance counselors, teachers, parents and friends — that more affluent high-school students take for granted.” Read all about the initiative here.