March 5, 2010
Over the past 30 years, college-going has increased for all groups of students – that’s good news. The bad news is that there are still huge gaps in the rates of college attendance between groups of students. Students who would be first in their family to attend college, low-income students and students of color enroll in college at far lower rates than their peers. Even the highest-achieving, low-income students enroll in four-year colleges at about half the rate of high-achieving high-income students.
So what are the barriers to college enrollment for low-income and other underrepresented students and how can Breakthrough programs help students overcome these barriers? This month’s research brief – Barriers to College for High Achieving Students – describes the research and best practices that Breakthrough programs should consider when designing and implementing high school support services that will best prepare their students to apply to and enroll in selective four-year colleges.
June 1, 2009
A recent study done by researchers at the University of Michigan shows that students as young as 11 adjust their expectations and academic effort based on whether or not they see college as a viable possibility.
In this study, one group of low-income and minority 7th graders was given information about need-based financial aid for college, while another group of low-income and minority 7th graders at the same school was given information about the cost of college without information on financial aid opportunities. Students then answered questions about their academic expectations and amount of time they were planning to devote to studying and homework. Students who were not already behind academically and who had received financial aid information expected to get better grades and planned to do more homework and studying than their peers who did not receive financial aid information.
Though this finding is not entirely surprising, it illustrates how early students start making conscious or unconscious decisions about college and how a lack of information about how to navigate the path to college and how to pay for college can seriously curtail a student’s academic effort as early as middle school.
This study should serve as a warning to everyone working with underserved students – waiting until high school to provide students with information about college and financial aid may be too late! It is critical to provide young students with guidance that enables them to see college as a real possibility and the information that will help them turn the dream of college into a reality.
December 17, 2008
A new report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy -Promise Lost: College-Qualified Students Who Don’t Enroll in College -explores why students who are academically qualified to attend college don’t enroll. Survey data from high school counselors and college-qualified students who choose not to go to college show that the reasons are primarily financial (e.g., the high cost of college, the perception that financial aid will be insufficient, the aversion to taking on debt or the need to work). The report also shows that students who choose not to pursue college make that choice very early in their education and don’t even take the initial steps that would make college a viable option (e.g., taking the SAT or ACT, filling out financial aid forms). One of the report’s recommendations (which supports Breakthrough’s program model) is to intervene early, preferably in middle school, to make sure students are aware of and knowledgeable about their college options.