Low-income parents in an Arkansas program are earning college degrees and certificates at twice the rate of other community college students, a new report shows. It’s discussed by Meredith Kolodner in The Hechinger Report.
As noted here often, single parents with low incomes are probably the most at-risk category of students at community colleges, and their numbers are growing. So the new report is worth serious consideration. As you can see when you read the piece, there is no magic pill to solve the problem. The remedy takes patience, valid diagnoses, and money. The success in Arkansas will look familiar to those who follow movements such as Guided Pathways and student engagement. Proper advisement and mentoring can achieve results, and it doesn’t seem terribly expensive.
You will note, for instance, that college personnel are given flexibility in the distribution of funds. Case managers, who have between 40 and 80 students each, start with an assessment of a student’s skills, weaknesses, and career goals. They are allowed to give out gas vouchers to help students get to and from school, or fund the purchase of a stethoscope, work boots, or the cost of a license exam, which for nurses can run up to $450, the article reports.
The average cost is $1,500 per student per year, said Katherine Boswell, a project manager who wrote the report. The program enrolls between 3,500 and 5,000 students in any given year and costs about $7 million annually. The authors found that African-American and Latino participants made some of the largest gains.
The entire report is linked above, along with the Hechinger article.