It is impossible to ignore the achievement gap between students from lower socio-economic backgrounds and those who come from more privileged socio-economic backgrounds. Invariably, societies that prosper the most are those that educate the greatest proportion of their population. But what happens when the educational opportunities vary from one area of town to another? Or even from one student to another?
Commonly, colleges and universities produce educated, social leaders. However, due to the achievement gap, not everyone has an equal opportunity to attend one of these institutions.
On November 9-10, 2006, the Princeton University Preparatory Program and The Goldman Sachs Foundation hosted a forum called “Opening Doors and Paving the Way”. During this national forum, leaders discussed pursuing better college accessibility for promising, low-income students.
Here Were Some of Their Findings
Students in the lower 50% of the socioeconomic scale constitute only 10% of the student population at the nation’s 146 most selective four-year colleges.
Low-income students (all of whom are eligible for Pell grants) make up almost 20% of the highest SAT and ACT scorers.
These numbers, along with our knowledge of skewed college accessibility, begs the question, “What are the barriers, and why is it like this?” Here are a few barriers that lower-income students face when it comes to attending college:
Many lower income schools do not have proper college preparatory curriculum in place. Many schools have few Honors, Advanced Placement, or other college preparatory classes. Even if some of this curriculum exists, many schools will cut these programs to make room for more basic classes in order to meet state sanctioned standardized test scores. Lower income schools also lack resources to attract higher quality teachers. Lastly, the school’s social and cultural norms may not embrace or celebrate academic excellence.
Student and Family Challenges
Most families desire for their children to make good grades and do well academically. However, there are some challenges when it comes to this.
Parents may need their children to contribute financially to household or childcare needs by working part time. The parents may have not attended college and may be unable to guide their children in the admission process. One of a parents’ largest worries is that college tuition will supersede their household income.
E2L and The Strategic Strategy
E2L's FIFTEEN leadership and life-skills development program prepares students to direct themselves and for post-secondary success. We also are building relationships with public and private universities and colleges that are looking for a more racially and socio-economically diverse student body that represents the broader culture of our country.
Why We Believe Our Model Works
One of the toughest things for at-risk students living in the margin is gaining access to great schools. As the United States becomes an increasingly multicultural society, Essential2life believes that the leaders of this new century should reflect the country’s rich demographic mix. The key to a promising future for our nation rests on the ability of strong leaders from diverse backgrounds.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen incredible results within our program. Since the inception of our program, we have seen students increase their GPA scores by 10.1% and have a 100% graduation success rate. 90% of those students have moved on to post-secondary education or the military. We have graduated one Gates Millennial Scholar, one MTV/TeenNick Halo Awards winner, and one APS Best of Show in Arts and Film.