Obstacles Minorities Undergo for an Education

“College is the path to success.” I’m sure everyone has heard that or something along those lines. But what if this success applies to only a certain type of student? Should high school students be pushed towards college as the only form to succeed if college picks favorites? And are different personal backgrounds more likely to succeed than others?

Different personal backgrounds are more likely to succeed in college than others and here’s why.

There are students who are first generation and students whose family has already gone to college. There are people who came from families of wealth and don’t have to pay a penny, and those that are from low income, barely scraping by with scholarships, grants, and the dreaded loans. There are also the different racial backgrounds. And out of these there is always one group that finds more success than others in college. The wealthy student, the continuing college generation student, the white student.

Take it from someone who knows both sides. My dad is the stereotypical white guy — pale skin and blue eyes. He went to Mexico in his 20s, met my mom, and married her. I spent my childhood living in Mexico surrounded by its culture, and then moved to the United States. Being biracial, I grew up hyper aware of how both races fared, and realized that my white friends were more successful at school. I took advanced placement classes in High School, and I was usually among only two other students who were of a different race. Three students out of a huge amount of diversity at our school. How could this be? My friends were already not exceeding in High School and only until College I realized just how much disparity there was between different races and economical statuses and how detrimental this could be as they embarked on their college experience.

Why do low income students fare worse even when there is FAFSA around?

Students that come from low income families find less success in college. It’s proven. “Students from the lowest income group need to borrow almost twice as much as students from the highest income group to fund their education” (Flores 1). Twice as much! I have known several students that either dropped out or took gap years to avoid burning out financially. This reflects largely on their graduation rates where only six percent of the lowest income earn their bachelor’s degree, versus the forty one percent of the highest income. Obviously economic status plays an incredibly large role in your likelihood to graduate. This however was never told to us in High School. Counselors have always said that FAFSA would help people out that struggle financially. But with less state investment towards education, Pell Grants have not been able to catch up with increasing college costs. This also attributes to reasons why students of color fare worse as well, because generally hispanics and black students come from lower income.

Besides income, why is it that black students are still at a disadvantage?

While college supplies all the education that a student needs, it does not make up for the inadequate education students went through previously. Most schools with “black majority enrollments do not have libraries, an adequate supply of textbooks and computers, art and music programs and science labs”(Weldon 1). This inferior education already puts them at a high disadvantage.

So how can we help black students now?

Diversity in professors is extremely important. Since black faculty members have dealt with unjust treatment, racism, and prejudice themselves they are more relatable. “Black students fare better in when they see professors with whom they can identify.” “Black professors provide credibility, positive role models, and support in and out of class” (Moore et al 932). Just like we enjoy seeing actors of our own race star in movies, students like seeing professors they can connect with.

Why do first generation students represent the “extreme case”?

First generation students face the most obstacles, they tend to be either black or hispanic and come from low which requires most to work, and be a part time student, in addition to being the least prepared for higher education coming from a family where no one has experienced college. This all reflects poorly on their graduation rates where only 27 percent of first-generation students graduated within four years in comparison to the 42 percent of students whose parents attended college. It’s clear that minorities are at a disadvantage so what is it that we can do?

What needs to happen.

As the economy continues to make more people struggle financially, and diversity extends to soon make us all more mixed, it will be soon not an important matter to fix, but a crucial one. First generation students are making up more of the percentage of students at colleges, but not a higher percentage of those graduating. The educational system needs to make it easier to pursue a degree while maintaining other obligations. FAFSA needs to be reevaluated, financial counselors need to seek financially struggling students, and word needs to be spread out. So I ask you and everyone to become more educated on this topic and turn it into a common discussion. With more publicity, there is a fairer shot of positive change in the future.