Drawing more low-income students to college

Inside Higher Ed reports on a new consortium to make college more affordable and more accessible for low-income “B+” students who may not now aspire to colleges with higher graduation rates and more competitive admissions.

And as is often the case, the attention is focused on higher status colleges, not the regional state schools were *most* students enroll:

Meanwhile, the identity of the colleges being targeted in the initiative is one major line of criticism. Some argue that to truly help more low- and moderate-income students graduate, you need to pump money into the public colleges and universities they attend — often nonflagship state universities. While the low-income students who are admitted to Harvard thanks to this program will certainly benefit, critics say, the overall problem of access to higher education won’t be addressed, since most low-income students will never be admitted to these institutions.

via Effort launches to boost low-income enrollment at top colleges

Stories of Being First

This blog has been neglected for too long  as I’ve been pulled into too many other things.

But one of the things I’m most proud of (and in which I’ve invested the most time) is the launch of the First in Our Families Digital Storytelling Project.  With my project partner Class Action , I’ve been doing workshops around the country, inviting students (and sometimes, faculty and staff) to craft a story of Being First.

Last weekend, I worked with graduate students from across the three campuses of the University of Washington, and the stories that they chose to make public are now on the project site.

I invite you to browse, listen, and learn from these students.

Here is a just one of the powerful stories:

Right Before Her Eyes from First In Our Families on Vimeo.

I’m forever grateful for the crowdfunding that made this project possible.  Check out the website for more about this project, and let me know if you’re interested in workshop at your campus.

Class, Race, and Student Debt

This report from Demos makes clear that student debt is disproportionately the problem of low-income and students of color.

Knowing that these students are also the least likely to make it to graduation makes the report more troubling.

  • Black and Latino students are dropping out with debt at higher rates than white students. At all schools, nearly 4-in-10 (39%) of Black borrowers drop out of college, compared to 29% of white borrowers. Around the same number (38%) of low-income borrowers1 drop out compared to less than a quarter of their higher-income peers. Nearly two-thirds of Black and Latino student borrowers at for-profit four-year schools drop out (65% and 67% respectively). Nearly half (47%) of Black student borrowers drop out with debt at for-profit 2, and less-than-2-,year institutions.

When Families Can’t Afford Summer

My campus fills with camps for kids in summer.  In the weeks I teach, I have to navigate around parents dropping kids off for computer camps and science camps, and down the hall from my classroom, kids are doing something with legos and circuits.

In my own family, I hear the parents who are professionals start planning in February for the camps their children will attend in summer.  My students start asking for our summer class schedules early in Winter so that they can plan summers for their kids.



In High School, I’d  babysit in summer.  Inexperienced and often unenthused about the work, I was the only adult in the lives of young children during those days. At least those families could afford to pay me a few dollars an hour.

Yesterday, the NYT published an essay reminding us that many families cannot afford even that:

WHAT are your kids up to this summer? Sounds like a casual question. But for working parents at this time of year, it’s loaded. What have you managed to pull together that will keep your kids engaged, healthy, happy and safe, while still allowing you to keep feeding and clothing them? For most parents, summer, that beloved institution, is a financial and logistical nightmare.

The financial and logistical nightmare of long summers out of school is sustained in part by the insistence of privileged parents that their children need time to refresh, to invest in enriching summer activities, or to travel.  While I’m sure that the logistics of camps and nannies and transportation become complicated, there is at least no worry that children are basically safe and cared for.

Study Abroad for Low Income College Students

A study has found important and long-term effects of scholarships for study abroad for Pell Grant eligible students. The list of benefits — personal, civic, academic–go far beyond gaining skills for “competing in a global economy”, yet I acknowledge that economic metrics are what matter most to many evaluators.

“The Evaluation data shows that the Gilman Scholarship is diversifying the kinds of students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go by offering awards to U.S. undergraduates who might otherwise not participate due to financial constraints,” the evaluation report states. “From changed perspectives on the world and new interests in working on global issues to focusing academic pursuits on international topics and deepening foreign language skills, the Gilman Scholarship has enabled students of limited financial means to develop the knowledge and competencies required to compete in a global economy.”