Which one will drop out of college?

The statistics aren’t too promising. Of the 2.8 million kids who enter college every year, about 50% won’t graduate in six years. And for minority kids, the numbers are more grim: only 44% of Hispanics and 39% of black students who enroll in college will walk out with a degree. When you consider that college graduates earn about 81% more than high school graduates–about $1 million more in a lifetime –that’s a sorely missed opportunity for the student, their families, and for society as a whole.

Beautiful Southwestern College-- making a difference in the numbers!

But those numbers do not apply if the folks at  Southwestern College have anything to say about it…and they do.  This small college of 1,900 students about 40 miles from Wichita, Kansas has initiated innovative programs to keep its minority students enrolled –resulting in an impressive African-American graduation rate of 63%. At the same time, the college is reaching back into the pipeline to help minority and low-income students in the area begin to prepare for college — starting with a very big carrot. In 2007, President Merriman made a promise to the inner-city students of Stucky Middle School in Wichita: if they maintained a B average throughout high school, they would be admitted to Southwestern, and given a 4-year scholarship of $25,000.

Thinking college thoughts!

Meanwhile, Southwestern Vice-President of Student Life Dr. Dawn Pleas-Bailey  is working to change hearts and minds as well. Preparing for college, applying, and trying to figure out how to pay for it is a herculean endeavor for even the most affluent families — which is why there is an entire industry devoted to improving rich kids’ SAT scores, winnowing down their college choices, and primping & padding their resumes.  But low-income kids are often left on their own, with parents who never went to college, an over-worked school guidance counselor, and no experience of ever having set foot on a college campus. So Southwestern is breaking down those barriers with a summer academic camp on the college’s campus, monthly visits by Stucky students to the college, and an active mentoring program that links Southwestern college kids with Stucky students throughout the year.

Making connections...

The transformation has been amazing. Middle schoolers learn to visualize themselves as college students, ask questions and engage in the classroom, navigate a college campus, and understand that it’s cool to be smart. High school AVID students spend three days at Southwestern living in residence halls and working with advisers, mentors and educators to create an implementation plan for completing their senior year and going through the college admissions process.  And the Black and Brown Summit hosts promising Hispanic and African-American young men in academic and leadership workshops to show them they can succeed at college.

From Camp Stucky to College .. and beyond!

The cost of these workshops? For the participants, it’s free. And because the college supports the work, Dawn is able to run a camp for 40 kids for a mere $7,000. What a superb investment! When you think of what some parents are spending to get their privileged kids into the college of their choice, this opportunity to support the hopes and dreams of 40 promising kids in Kansas is really irresistible. I’m in!

To join me, click here (and in comments, please indicate you are giving to the Stucky Camps Fund).

3 thoughts on “Which one will drop out of college?

  1. As a graduate of Southwestern College and a student deeply impacted by the influence of Dawn Pleas-Bailey, I assure you this is a worthy investment. I cannot imagine my life without the education SC afforded me and the opportunities placed in front of me. Furthermore, I am honored that Dawn continues to pour her love and wisdom into me ten years following my graduation from SC. Thanks for giving to the SC community and the future of these very important children in Kansas!

  2. They can always be apprentices if they don’t want to study… Not all college graduates make it in the industry of their choice even if they have a degree. A lot of pressure is put on young adults to make their ‘future’ choices NOW but not all know exactly what they want, some end up enrolling in courses that their not motivated to do because of this pressure. Then they drop out coz it wasn’t right for them in the first place. Think about how many parents want their children to be doctors, lawyers, dentists, etc… and see if those same parents would give the same support to a child who wants to be an artist, musician, athlete, brick layer, etc.

  3. I know from personal experience how difficult it is to get a college education having grown up in a lower middle class family of 9 children with parents who only had 8th grade educations.
    It was easier 40 years ago than it is today. It made a very big difference in my career, earnings and the quality of life I could provide my small family. I can only image what my life would be like today if I didn’t get my BS and later my MS. Students need encouragement and opportunity. I firmly believe that a college education needs to be a right for every child if they want it and it should be paid for by society.
    Society would benefit in such fantastic ways that people just don’t have a clue as to the changes that it would create in: reducing crime, increasing creativity, productivity, employment, and general happiness, children would grow up with a world view and hope that they can participate in anything they decide to work hard to make a reality.
    We really have a primitive slave mentality as a society. We want mindless workers not creative independent thinkers.
    We are not generating enough original thinkers, creative thinkers and visionaries.
    It is a crime against the need for a healthy democratic society to not allow each child to achieve their highest potential.
    We need thinkers, leaders and problem solvers.
    How stupid can our “leaders” be to NOT allow our treasure, our children to become all they can BE.

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