Searching for and applying to colleges is a tough process for even the most prepared students. Low-income students face unique struggles throughout the process, no matter how high-achieving they may be. Over 2/3 of low-income students attend community or for-profit colleges and face lower graduation rates than their higher-income peers. Why is this?
Low-income students also tend to lack the proper advising and personalized information that’s needed to move successfully to and through college. According to College Advising Corps, the national ratio of students to advisors is more than 450 to 1. This huge imbalance leads to students receiving general and vague information throughout a process that demands personalization and specificity for success.
At home, low-income students continue to face discrepancies in college support. Many low-income students are also first-generation college students. Their families aren’t familiar enough with the college process to provide sufficient knowledge and support. Families often get “sticker shock” when they see the full tuition costs of private and independent schools, not knowing the availability of need-based financial aid and other scholarship opportunities. As a result, it’s difficult for low-income and first-generation students to assess college options beyond community and state institutions. Many high-achieving students ultimately enroll in colleges that don’t match their abilities because they don’t get help to reach more selective schools.
What You Can Do
There are tons of resources available to students applying to college – if students know where to find them. Mentoring and advising programs are doing incredible work around the country to ensure that students obtain access to college information. However, when low-income students don’t have advisors to point them to college resources and inadequate Internet connectivity to find the resources themselves, the college-going process can feel like an impossible struggle. One of the most effective ways to reach low-income students with simplified information and personalized counseling is text messaging. With increases in matriculation and persistence and decreases in student loan borrowing, the value of texting as a college advising tool becomes clearer every day.
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