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Encouraging Low-Income Students To Go To College

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Earlier this week I wrote a post about a new study that came out titled “Disadvantaged students reap most financial return from college education.” It’s an important study — one that I’ll use with my students. Here’s the part I quoted there:

The economic value of a college diploma is nearly twice as high for women from disadvantaged backgrounds as for women from privileged backgrounds, the findings show. For disadvantaged men, the lift is even greater:A college education is worth three times more for them than for privileged college-goers.

On my favorite writers on education issues, Claus von Zastrow, left this insightful comment on my post:

This is an important study, because it flies in the face of all those recent arguments AGAINST encouraging low-income students to attend college. The debt isn’t worth it, and they’re often under-prepared, the argument goes. The “college isn’t for everyone” mantra” is often silently directed at low-income students.

That comment struck a chord when I read about The Low Risk of High Expectations at the Core Knowledge blog (by the way, Robert Pondiscio, that blog’s author, will be my guest in May’s “Interview Of The Month” on this blog).

Robert writes about another new study, titled Is There A Downside To Shooting For The Stars?. Here’s a quote from Robert’s post, though I recommend you read it in its entirety:

The study found no long-term emotional costs of aiming high and falling short when it comes to educational aspirations. “We should not be in a hurry to dissuade these students from planning to go to college,” Reynolds [the study's author] said. “In fact, the only way to guarantee negative mental health outcomes is not trying. Aiming high and failing is not consequential for mental health, while trying may lead to higher achievements and the mental and material benefits that go along with those achievements.”

Of course, in California, getting a four-year degree for many would be more feasible (and less financially-risky) if our community colleges were given the capacity to offer four-year degrees, as they have in a number of other states. There’s the beginning of an effort to make that happen, but it faces many, many political obstacles.

Does anybody have an idea if such a change has any chances at all here in California?

Please leave a comment if you do…

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. I couldn’t agree more! I currently work in a Title I School and I am constantly looking for ways to encourage the students that I work with to go to college. Unfortunately many people don’t agree with my encouragement because the students I work with are disadvantaged and have mild disabilities. But I truly believe they can! I did it! I came from a near poverty home and I did it. Even without parents encouraging me. I wanted it and I valued education and a lot of that is credit to my teachers. So I’m trying to pay it forward.

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