Graduating from college is not as simple as it seems, especially for students from low-income families who are often the first in their families to be attending college. Adjusting to college life can be such a struggle for these students that most who drop out do so in their first year, and nearly 30 percent of college students won’t return at all.
My work at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation focuses on ensuring that all students have a fighting chance at graduating from college. In a perfect world, 100 percent of students who enroll in college would graduate. Not only do we know that those who graduate from college have a more prosperous life, we also know that those who start but drop out are faced with debt they incurred during their time at college.
We invest in organizations that are making a difference for that 30 percent, that are solving the problem of ensuring more low-income students graduate from college in unique ways. OneGoal is one of those organizations. Their program spans 10th grade through freshman year of college and is led by high school teachers who already know their students well. These teachers, known as Program Directors, are trained how to specifically address the college application, selection, enrollment, and transition process and form trusting relationships with their students that extend beyond the walls of a high school classroom and into college. With this trusting relationship in place, students feel comfortable relying on these teachers for support through their first year of college, support they aren’t likely to find from family members who never attended college.
And it’s working – 86 percent of OneGoal students who enroll in college are persisting into their sophomore year. Watch this video of a student and his teacher/program director to get a firsthand look into how it works. It will give you some insight into their one goal. College graduation. Period.