Leveling Playing Fields For Low-Income Students

Two programs show promising successes with low-income community college students.  The first would seem to build social and cultural capital:

Benefits of membership in the honor society include various activities to encourage student engagement, the study said. Those include leadership opportunities, soft-skills professional development and transfer readiness.

The group introduces students to “friends who are going places,” Tincher-Ladner said.

The second provides generous financial aid and ongoing supports to students that, in the end, pay off:

However, the Dell Scholars program appears to be a fiscally sound investment, the study found. Its authors conducted a fairly simple cost-benefit analysis, and found that the financial benefits — both in the enhanced earnings of recipients and their tax payments — tops the program’s costs after 12 years of postcollege earnings.

In other words, leveling social and economic playing fields –beyond academic remediation — seems to work.

via Programs have success helping low-income students graduate.

Rethinking the “Undermatching” Concerns for First Gen Students

This, on the report that came out this week on how most college students stay within 50 miles of home, what that means for young living people far from metro areas, and the purposes of higher education.

If we assume that the point of higher education is to pluck out the few worthies from the great mass and to siphon them to the few places that matter, then the undermatching thesis is the way to go. But if we assume that people who choose the Batavias of the world — for reasons of their own — also matter, then we need to reject it out of hand.

via Postcards From the Provinces | Confessions of a Community College Dean.

Social mobility, Egalitarianism, and Dignity

The video won’t embed here, but linked below is a short, compelling argument that “ignoring inequality while focusing on mobility denies human dignity”.

It’s worth 2:31 minutes of your time and your thought.

Is he drawing too fine a line for argument’s sake? Or is this the core cruelty of these times?
via Social mobility is cruel. Here’s why – video | Opinion | The Guardian.

Invisible Students in Policy Discussions

Good data how, in spite of how often we hear about “going away to school” and the importance of choosing the right college, most poor and working -class attend college within 50 miles of home.

“The conversation pretty much ends with, ‘Hey, get better information in the hands of students,’” Hillman said. “But the way that prospective students use information is very different depending on what kinds of students you’re looking at.”
The crux of the problem is a misalignment of expectations: from policy makers’ perspective, students would attend college at whatever institution is best for them. But for some students, location is nonnegotiable — and often, that means their options are dramatically limited.
For upper-class students, having more information might help; they have the flexibility to travel, and they can afford to shop around. But it isn’t enough for working-class students, who may need to choose from the options available nearby.
“Most of the conversations today overlooks the working-class student and prioritizes the upper-class student,” Hillman said. “It’s just really frustrating from the academic side — and even more frustrating from a policy angle.

via When students enroll in college, geography matters more than policy makers think.

Temple U offers grant in exchange for students agreeing to work less, study more

More on financial aid, the working student, the lack of clarity about how many students struggle to pay for college while working low-wage jobs.


Temple pays students in additional financial aid to reduce their need to work so much that they delay graduation

“There was some pushback,” he said. “This was thought of as, ‘You’re paying kids not to work.’ And I had to be very clear. We’re not paying them to go home and play video games. We’re paying them to free them up from this need to earn money, so they can reallocate that time to course work and to staying on track to graduate.”

via Temple U offers grant in exchange for students agreeing to work less, study more.

Financial Aid That May Not Help

So many exhausted students have sat across from me in my office, unable to cut back on work hours, unable to drop classes because they’d fall below the minimum they need for their financial aid package, and most persevere. But we cannot equate pressure with support.

New policies encourage students to take 15 credits to speed time toward degree.

“Research clearly indicates that giving them more grant aid will help them complete degrees at higher rates. The money is necessary,” she wrote. “But what will happen if it comes at an additional price associated with being pushed to take more credits than they otherwise would have? Is this positive motivation, or a punitive approach driven by political requirements to ration financial aid?”

via Fifteen-to-Finish campaign wins fans, stokes worries.