The lack of information in lower-income schools keep students lower-income
College admissions for low income students fell 10 percentage points from 55.9% in 2008 to 45.5% in 2013.
According to a 2015 Southern Education Foundation report, over 51 percent of students in the United States are below the poverty line. Federal aid for these students has increased significantly over the last decade under the Obama Administration and they are theoretically available to over half of the country’s students, yet college admissions for low income students fell 10 percentage points from 55.9% in 2008 to 45.5% in 2013. (According to analysis of US Census data by the American Council on Education) This means the number of lower income students are growing in public schools while at the same time falling in post-secondary schools. Many attribute this to price, an issue that is being addressed in many different ways from more federal grants and interest-free loans to New York’s Excelsior Scholarship, which essentially makes public colleges tuition free for students in the middle and lower class. While college costs have definitely been rising, the price issue doesn’t explain the reason why those students who are missing out on college don’t choose a cheaper community college or utilize the numerous grant programs. The general consensus must then be that these students simply aren’t prepared to enter college due to a lack of support, even though as stated before, there are a significant number of government supported programs available to these students, who again, make up the majority of the student populace in the country.
The student body should be the first place that information pertaining to THEIR education go through.
The fault here doesn’t lie with the federal government, but instead on the local school boards who fail to promote these programs to their students. I have attended Title 1 schools my entire life and I can personally give a perspective on the lack of information on programs that could benefit many college bound students if they knew these programs even existed. The Upward Bound program, a federally funded college prep program, is a great case in point, specifically in the Atlanta area where I grew up. Upward Bound is a program available at 15+ high schools in the Atlanta area (because Atlanta Metro’s Upward Bound program hasn’t updated their website since 2013, I have to guess that they’ve included newer schools such as Langston Hughes High in Fulton County). According to an Upward Bound representative at Banneker High School in College Park, Georgia, it is available to students in the 9th and 10th grades, even though their website says all high school students age 13 through 19 may apply. Finding this representative was difficult, I finally tracked him down after a whole two years of enrollment at Banneker High School, a year too late as I was a junior on my way to becoming a senior.
Just inform the students about the programs offered at the schools. It’s that simple.
This isn’t just an issue with Upward Bound. Programs such as Next Generation Men and AVID are non-profit programs that support low income students, but if you walk the halls of one of these underperforming schools, the majority of students will say that they’ve never heard of these programs. Why is that? It’s a known fact that parents in poverty aren’t very active in their child’s school, but they still care about their child’s education. Most schools today target their information toward parents in the form of phone calls, and through the mail, two methods that don’t reach households where parents usually work two or three jobs and don’t pick up the phone and only glance through mail. This current method of spreading information just doesn’t work. Parents are missing information that could directly affect a student’s chance of success in life. The answer is obvious. Just inform the students about the programs offered at the schools. It’s that simple. Pretending that students aren’t smart enough to handle information is hurting these students’ chances at success. The student body should be the first place that information pertaining to THEIR education go through. In fact, high school students should be given more responsibility instead of holding their 15 through 18 year old hands as if they can’t critically think for themselves. I’m hoping that in the near future, school boards start to realize this, and start to give more widespread information about the programs designed to help these low income students to the target audience. Knowledge is power, and if we continue to hold this info back from our children, we are effectively stripping away all power from them.