Minimizing the Inaccessibility of College

Minimizing the Inaccessibility of College

Minimizing the Inaccessibility of College

In a research article published in the academic journal Politics of Educational Equity: Rethinking Postsecondary Admissions and Transfer, scholars Benjamin Davis and Rebecca Shibley Harman apply policies that support students in gaining access to a postsecondary education. One of the initiatives being studied is making access more appealing to low-income families with vouchers to pay tuition, supplemented by funds raised from the creation of a citizen’s fund to fund scholarship funds for select low-income students. This initiative, titled Scholarship.VC, which presents an independent higher-education option for low-income students in Prince George’s County, Maryland, is just one way to seek to increase access for all families.

The involvement of parents in making education choices becomes particularly crucial in the public school system, given that poor families lack access to tutoring, travel, and other resources to make it possible for a child to become proficient in the language and academic subjects needed to prepare for higher education. In light of such factors, scholarship means something more than a small cash incentive that families can offer. Grants and scholarships are ways for low-income families to help children stay focused and gain the kind of skills they will need to succeed in college.

To bring a scholarship program to fruition, Scholarship.VC leadership first identified community leaders who knew how to deliver scholarship funds in a way that support all students, from those who have never attended college to those who are interested in college but need to do an internship first. When parents and community leaders like Martha Wright, Alice Sommerlin, William Hopkins, and Paul Pezzuto, joined together to support scholarship candidates, they felt a community spirit and readiness to aid scholarship seekers that may not have existed otherwise.

All children deserve an education that will allow them to go to college and thrive, and the success of your child may depend on it.

Sociologist and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Chair in Education, Robyn Busemeyer, author of The Power of Social Networks: Building Community in America’s Schools, believes that schools are doing a poor job of engaging parents in their children’s academic lives. What’s more, parents in underfunded school districts are realizing that many of their communities are effectively cut off from resources necessary to empower student achievement and development.

This means that schools and teachers must be open to the notion that community members may be able to come up with solutions that benefit students’ needs. By choosing to work on solutions that benefit other children in the community, schools may end up finding parents and community leaders who will produce a model for the future that will benefit not only their own student but students in nearby schools as well.

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