I read a great New York Times post about how talented, low-income and minority students experience hardships on their path to getting their college degree. While the article highlights the socioeconomic gap that permeates college graduation rates, my message is clear: NO MATTER YOUR BACKGROUND, KNOWLEDGE and WISDOM fills any gap. As I have worked with hundreds of students as college academic coach, I see a pattern in those students who achieve and those students that don’t. It’s not that they are incapable of doing these things, but no one has ever inform them of the best practices in getting a college education. Why aren’t they communicated is another discussion about whose job is it to REALLY prepare our student for college. There are 5 things students can do to overcome any educational hurdle and obtain a college degree. Unfortunately, these things are not communicated to parents and students and students walk blindly into college.
- Get involved in a bridge or transition program. These programs are effective for so many reasons and many have proven to help retain and graduate more students from marginalize populations.
- Identify a peer, faculty, and staff mentor and foster a relationship. Many low-income students are also the first to go to college in their immediate family, which means there are not as many people in their network to properly help them get adjusted to college. However, establishing a mentoring relationships with faculty and staff can fill this gap. Having a person of accountability and someone that can give you unbiased advice can help students remain focus and on track after theyencounter normal bumps and hurdles of college life.
- Utilize all campus resources especially academic support. This a biggie. Tutorial services can be wrongfully thought of as remedial for some students. However, students who use academic support services have higher grades than those that do not.
- Get involved in professional and social organizations. Students who are social engaged on campus have a higher retention and graduation rate than those who just go to class and go home.
- Ask for help. With all the un-student friendly bureaucracy of college, a simple academic or financial aid issue can quickly snowball into a major problem. Many times students feel helpless and don’t know who or where to turn. Simply asking for help or direction can make a huge difference.