I am so glad to hear about programs like this one at Amherst that are designed to help low-income students attend elite colleges. Amherst's program even includes grants to help students purchase dorm room necessities and winter coats.
Even at state universities, low-income students face obstacles that can be nearly insurmountable. It has twice been my great privilege to teach classes that are geared towards helping first-generation college students succeed at UT. In these classes, I've had students who grew up in homeless shelters, whose parents were migrant farm workers, who worked far more than 8 hours a week to make ends meet while maintaining a full load of classes.
The odds they have to fight are overwhelming and heartbreaking. One of my students this past semester left me in tears after explaining the situation that caused the student to miss an exam. I couldn't help it. With the number of overprivileged, lazy students who come into my office whining about their grades every semester, it broke my heart to hear such a story from a student who just wanted to learn.
Programs like the ones we have at UT are a good start in helping students from low-income backgrounds succeed, but they aren't enough, and programs like those at Amherst only benefit a few lucky kids. We're only going to have true equality of opportunity in this country when we commit to ensuring that all children, regardless of where they live or who their parents are, have the opportunity to go to good schools, with well-paid, committed educators helping them to prepare for life.
Labels: academic life