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.
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.
This looks like another excellent book on class on campus — at least elite campuses. Certainly the contrasts of class are most stark in such places.
And surely, the class dynamics that may be harder to identify a such, that may be just as devastating, that may be interpreted by students as “I’m just not as good as those students who seem like me”- those class dynamics between the children of poor and working class parents and the children of professionals at the hundreds and hundreds of state schools across the country are also worthy of study.
Class not simply the line between the wealthy and the rest of us.
But as for this book, we cannot say things like this enough:
At elite colleges like the one I studied, middle- and upper-income students tend to be understood as typical, while low-income, first-generation students are the exceptions, the outsiders coming in. Echoing what we see in broader popular culture, middle- and upper-income student experiences are presented as common, and the kinds of jobs their parents have are presented as desirable. By contrast, there’s very little discussion of class inequality, or of working-class or low-income lives, except as something to leave behind.
Today, Inside Higher Ed published an excellent essay on “mission” within institutions serving primarily first generation students and and how providing opportunities to travel should be part of that social justice mission.
We grapple with this on my campus, as so many students balance work and school and family.
I’m discouraged when articles like this come out that declare that many First Generation students are academically underprepared, only to read that the study was done by the creators of the ACT test and the only measure used was ACT scores, not actual academic performance in college.
There’s intriguing evidence that the ACT offers only “trivial” value for predicting success in college.
So Kudos to the commenter who speaks as a former first generation student and now as their advocate who speaks of actual performance in college and supports that make a difference rather than simplifying potential for the complex work of navigating college to a single test score.