Monday, May 22, 2017

Recent college grads go to high schools to inspire top low-income students to go to elite colleges

Emily Hadley works for the College Advising Corps
in rural areas. (New York Times photo by Travis Dove)
Research shows that the most gifted low-income rural students lack the resources to find a college that's a good fit for them, and they end up attending one less rigorous than they can handle, Anemona Hartocollis reports for The New York Times. Nonprofit College Advising Corps is trying to change that by placing recent college graduates in public high schools for two-year stints as full-time college advisers, where they can share their own experiences with students.

Supporters say the organization helps high-achieving students reach their potential, Hartocollis writes. Critics "say that these efforts are too focused on transforming the lives of the most brilliant tier of low-income students" and ignore other students. "Others say that steering all the smart teenagers to a few elite colleges may be good for those particular students, but may worsen the social and economic stratification of American society—there will be no more small-town philosopher-car mechanics."

College Advising Corps, founded in Virginia in 2005 with 14 advisers, now has about 600 advisers nationally, including 182 in rural schools, Hartocollis writes. Its budget of $34 million was raised through private philanthropy, state and federal funds. It partners with 24 colleges and universities to recruit and train advisers, who are paid a salary and receive partial loan forgiveness for working as advisers. Most are from low-income backgrounds.

Adviser Emily Hadley, a 2015 Duke University graduate, "said it was hard to make students see the value of a college degree when their parents relied on odd jobs, food stamps or disability benefits and they could improve the situation immediately by making $500 a week as field workers," Hartocollis reports. She said "many students did not understand the basic mechanics of going to college. They thought that all they had to do was sign up the day before classes began."

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