This Washington Post article explores the experience of first-generation college students, who make up a large percentage of the population at most teaching-intensive institutions. Our colleges and universities are a path to economic success and social mobility for working-class and poor students, but culture issues can be more important than family income in determining student success. Kavitha Cardoza notes that students whose parents did not attend college may not have known to take the most appropriate college-prep courses in high school, and they might be taken by surprise by the culture on college campuses, from food to social life.
I wrote about some of this ten years ago for Inside Higher Ed; you can check that article out here.
When students do drop out, they often leave with debt and a sense of failure — that they’re not “college material.” That feeling can alter the narrative about college for an entire community, says Monica Gray of D.C. College Success Foundation. “Every student has a story of a cousin, a sibling, a friend, a neighbor who went to college but had to drop out,” she says. “And that is what a lot of people use as a reason for students not to go.”