Prepping for College, Part 2

As I describe this college process over the course of the summer, it’s really, really important to keep in mind that this is the experience of a very small group of kids and families. We’re all in our privileged bubbles thinking that this is what all high school juniors are doing. But it’s not. Not even close.

The average high school kid isn’t going to college right after high school. In 2013, 39.9 percent of  18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in college. That’s a higher percentage than in 2000, when 35.5 percent attended college.

And the average college doesn’t look anything like my kid.

From my Atlantic article on hunger on the college campus:

As Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a policy director from the Center for Law and Social Policy, explained, people often think that college students are aged 18 to 25, childless, and attending a four-year institution. But that’s not the experience of the typical college student. In fact, most students are older, low income, raising a family, or attending a community college, she said: “The nontraditional student is the new normal.” And ultimately, according to Lower-Basch, “we shouldn’t be surprised that this group is reporting food shortages.” Roughly half of American high-school students qualify for free- or reduced-price meals—kids whose needs don’t change when they go to college.

So, most kids aren’t in my kid’s boat with options, engaged parents, and jet fuel. Few have parents that are blocking out weeks in the summer to drive around the country for the tours. So, Jonah may not have the fullest range of options, because of financial constraints and all. He’s still a very lucky young man.


One thought on “Prepping for College, Part 2

  1. We enjoy a lot of privilege and much of it is beyond “this person’s a millionaire and this person is poor”, etc. Those subtle things like knowing how to act in the world and make things happen – it’s a huge divider.

    I volunteer here in Vancouver with a charity that helps out hungry kids in elementary schools. The school district feeds 5,000 kids breakfast and lunch each week. That’s in a city with a population a little over 600,000 (2.4 million if you include the ‘burbs). This charity provides a bag of food for 1,000 elementary school aged kids for the weekend (3 meals plus 2 snacks for two days).

    My point being, it’s certainly not a level playing field. Having parents who are engaged (or who know how to be engaged/have the time to be engaged) makes a big difference. Having enough food to eat so you arrive ready to learn – a big difference.


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