While the gap between the earnings of college graduates and less educated peers continues to widen, so does the difference between the proportion of prosperous and poor Americans who earn college degrees. In others words, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that low-income students, no matter how bright, will get the educational opportunities that allow them to move up the socioeconomic ladder, an injustice that Americans should be unwilling to accept.
Lower- and middle-income students often fail to fulfill their potential only because they lack the highly educated mentorship that benefits their wealthier peers. The need for such mentorship was confirmed in a paper released by the Obama administration in 2014 titled “Increasing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students,” which noted, “Low-income students often lack the guidance and support they need to prepare for college, apply to the best-fit schools, apply for financial aid, enroll and persist in their studies, and ultimately graduate…” Public school teacher and guidance counselors, no matter how talented and hard-working, cannot meet the needs of all of their students: there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
For students who seek college degrees, getting to college is not enough:
- About half of all students who enroll in college never earn a bachelor's degree
- About half of dropouts have an average debt of $10,000
- First-generation college students drop out of school at three times the rate of those whose parents graduated from college
Some college can be worse than none at all, leaving students with debt, no degree, and time lost in the job market. Students need to be mentored THROUGH college, not just to it.