Numerous studies have found that first-generation students are much less likely to graduate. They enroll less prepared and less confident than their classmates whose parents have degrees, and their performance is worse, according to data from the Higher Education Research Institute and the U.S. Education Department. Today’s issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the Wal-Mart Foundation aims to help first-generation students graduate in two ways: through small private colleges and via minority-serving institutions. By 2022, almost half of all new public high-school graduates are projected to be members of minority groups, many of which have been historically underserved in higher education.
Wal-Mart Foundation’s president is Margaret A. McKenna, the former president of Lesley University, in Cambridge, Mass., where first-generation students represent about a third of the undergraduates. To date, Wal-Mart has awarded more than $10 million over the past two years to the following:
o $5.3-million to the Council of Independent Colleges, to make grants to its small, private members; the group announced 20 in 2008 and plans to award 30 more next month
o $4.2-million to the Institute for Higher Education Policy, which made 15 grants to minority-serving institutions last year and will announce another 15 this month.
National discussions on accountability and student success have directed more attention to first-generation students. Educators are saying that many more of them will have to graduate to meet President Obama’s goal of the United States’ having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.
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How can educators at the elementary and middle schools be afforded student success and transition programs for their levels?
How can we do a better job, particularly in middle school, to pave the way for minority and first-generation students to achieve future academic success?
What would a successful college-bound student look like in elementary school? Middle school? High school? If we don’t have benchmarks for success at each transition point, our younger students will fall short of their potential as future college graduates.
Chronicle of Higher Education
Wal-Mart’s $10-million diplomas
By Sara Lipka
February 14, 2010
Students quit college for all kinds of reasons. They can’t pay; they have to work; they struggle academically. When they’re the first in their families to pursue higher education, the hurdles can seem higher. Just getting to college does not guarantee success.
Numerous studies have found that first-generation students are much less likely to graduate. They enroll less prepared and less confident than their classmates whose parents have degrees, and their performance is worse, according to data from the Higher Education Research Institute and the U.S. Education Department.
There is more consensus on these disparities than there is on the solutions. The Wal-Mart Foundation is trying to change that.
To view this entire article visit www.chronicle.com