Thursday, May 14, 2015

"How to Graduate From Starbucks" by Amanda Ripley

“When it comes to college, the central challenge for most Americans in the 21st century is not going; it’s finishing. Thirty-five million Americans now have some college experience but no degree. More Americans than live in Texas, in other words, have spent enough time at college to glimpse the promised land – but not enough to reap the financial bounty. Some are worse off than if they’d never enrolled at all, carrying tens of thousands of dollars in debt, not to mention the scar tissue of regret and self-doubt.”

“Each year, students under age 24 must gather up their parents’ tax information and fill out a 105-question form known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. (A bill that would shorten the application to two questions is awaiting action in Congress.) Those who file the form early in the year typically receive twice as much money as those who file later, but you of course have to know that bit of trivia to take advantage of it.”

“Simply put, many Americans fail to finish college, because many colleges are not designed to be finished. They are designed to enroll students, yes. They are built to garner research funds and accrue status through rankings and the scholarly articles published by faculty. But those things have little to do with making sure students leave prepared to thrive in the modern economy.”

“We know if you surround any student with love and attention and good coaching and mentorship, they will succeed,” Daniel Greenstein, who directs college-completion initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told me. Over time, Greenstein has become more and more convinced that data-driven, student-centered university cultures can reverse the college-dropout trends. “The research tells us that what really matters for low-income and first-generation students,” he said, “is that you put your arms around them.”

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