Over the past few years and with the presidential election coming up, ever increasing income inequality between the American people tends to flood my social media newsfeeds right alongside the ability of each individual to attend college. Both topics seem to go hand-in-hand, as college/university tuition prices continue to rise, and the student debt bubble starts to look like Mary Poppins’ bag of endless items. Except in the form of money. And they do. With countries outside of the U.S. continuing to take on a trend of offering free tuition to their citizens, as well as those from other countries, many people are hoping that America will follow suit. But the current opportunity gap for kids and young adults involved in low income lifestyles physically portrays a loss of leadership and knowledge potential that could be used to produce some of the world’s greatest research, run the world’s most successful countries, and influence social change that we have yet to see in today’s society.
There is no denying that opportunities are not present in the abundance of low-income communities as they are in that of higher-income areas. To represent this in a statistical manner, there are ~30,000 low-income students that score over a 1300 on the combined math and verbal SAT scores on an annual basis. Another 42,000 score over 1220, and a third of top low-income performers don’t take the SAT. The talent is there, yet only 3% of students attending the top 146 colleges/universities were drawn from families in the lowest economic quartile.
This of course occurs due to multiple reasons; whether it be college funding, lifestyle disparity, lack of knowledge/skills to apply, etc. The list is endless. But the truth is that these students should not only have the ability to attend these high end schools to help better the world through a career of their choice, but closing the gap of education relying on income status will allow this existing talent and knowledge base to help progress the education system as a whole. Questbridge, an organization rooting back to 1987 with the belief that noble actions are in the nature of individuals and groups, set out to mentor and motivate students and individuals from low-income environments. Now, towards the end of 2015, the organization has paired with 36 university and college partners, along with a fulfilling and reputable list of advisors such as Reid Hoffman, Tim Ferriss, and John Lilly.
Two programs are offered by the organization: A College Prep Scholarship (available for juniors in HS), and a National College Match (for seniors in HS). Both programs aim to provide the students with knowledge, resources, and support needed to apply to highly selective colleges in which they are academically qualified for. The programs offer a customized application that puts a unique emphasis on obstacles overcome by the student, as well as in-depth financial information in order for these students to understand that they can receive the financial aid that they need to attend college in a financially feasible way.
Over 70% of the students that Questbridge has worked with are in the first generation of their family to attend college. The company takes the racial spotlight out of finding and mentoring the opportunities to harvest bright potential for our future. It’s nice to see a proactive approach to bridging the education divide of income inequality. Learn more from their website.