What Can Communities Do to Create More College Graduates?
At some point in the lifespan of a community, it’s going to become worthwhile to ask what can be done to create more college graduates. Keeping a town’s borders stocked with well-educated, competent young people is a key to success for any municipality, large or small. How can a community go about increasing its college graduation rates?
There are many ways that communities can work to create more college graduates. One way is by working to improve elementary and secondary schools within the town’s boundaries. Good schools lay the foundation for future success in college. From there, it’s a matter of how you talk about and promote college education to these developing young people.
In this article, we share 7 distinct ways that any town can improve its odds. Let’s begin!
1. Provide scholarships and grants to help students pay for college
Communities can generate more scholarships and grant money for students by holding fundraisers. Popular types of fundraisers include bake sales, car washes, or even 5K races.
Businesses or individuals can also sponsor scholarships, which provide a set amount of money to one or more students. Another way to generate scholarship money is through crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe.
These platforms allow people to donate money to causes or individuals they care about. Finally, communities can also raise money for scholarships by working with local colleges and universities.
Many schools have programs where a percentage of tuition payments is set aside for financial aid. By increasing awareness of these programs and encouraging more people to participate, communities can generate additional student scholarship funds.
2. Create mentorship programs to connect students with professionals
According to a recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics, only 60% of students who begin college will earn a degree within six years. This number has remained relatively unchanged for the past decade, despite increasing numbers of high school graduates.
One way to improve college completion rates is to create mentorship programs that pair college students with successful professionals in their field of interest. These programs provide vital support and guidance to students as they navigate their way through the often-challenging world of higher education.
In addition, mentorship programs can help to connect students with internship and job opportunities, giving them a chance to gain real-world experience in their chosen field. By providing these resources and opportunities, mentorship programs can play a key role in increasing college completion rates.
Furthermore, communities can support these programs by funding scholarships and connecting students with mentors. By working together, they can ensure that more students have the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond.
3. Fund after-school programs and summer camps that focus on academic enrichment
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of Americans aged 25 and older with a college degree has steadily increased over the past few decades, rising from 10.8% in 1940 to 33.4% in 2010. However, despite this progress, there is still a significant achievement gap between different demographic groups.
For example, while 38% of Whites aged 25 and older have a college degree, only 24% of Blacks and 11% of Hispanics do. One way to help close this gap is by providing after-school programs and summer camps that focus on academic enrichment.
These programs can help to increase college readiness by teaching essential skills such as time management, study habits, and test-taking strategies. In addition, they can provide a much-needed source of support for students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. By investing in programs like these, communities can help to ensure that more students have the opportunity to go to college and succeed.
4. Build more affordable housing so students don’t have to worry about money while they’re in school
Turning to the National Center for Education Statistics again, the average cost of tuition and fees at a public four-year college was just over $10,000 in the 2018-2019 school year. For many students and their families, this is a significant financial burden.
As a result, many students are forced to take on loans or work long hours to pay for their education. Unfortunately, this often leads to students dropping out of college before earning their degrees.
Affordable housing programs can help to alleviate this financial burden and increase the number of college graduates. By providing safe and affordable housing for students, these programs allow students to focus on their studies without worrying about how they will pay their rent.
In addition, these programs often include other amenities such as laundry facilities and transportation assistance, which can further reduce the financial burden on students. As a result, affordable housing programs play an important role in increasing the number of college graduates.
Communities that invest in these programs often see a significant return on their investment. That’s because college graduates are more likely to find jobs and contribute to the local economy.
5. Advocate for more resources from state and federal governments to support higher education
To compete in the global economy, communities must advocate for more resources from state and federal governments to support higher education. Higher education provides individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in a variety of careers.
Furthermore, higher education institutions are engines of economic growth, creating jobs and generating tax revenue. Despite the clear benefits of investing in higher education, many state and federal government budget priorities do not reflect this reality.
As a result, communities must come together and advocate for more resources to support higher education. By doing so, they can ensure that their residents have the opportunity to succeed in the 21st-century economy. Some specific ways to do this include:
- contacting your state and federal representatives and urging them to support higher education;
- organizing rallies or protests in support of higher education;
- and writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper highlighting the importance of investing in higher education.
By taking these steps, communities can show their elected officials that they value higher education and want their tax dollars to reflect this. Advocating for more resources from state and federal governments, communities can help to ensure that more students have the opportunity to go to college and succeed.
6. Volunteer as tutors or mentors for students in their area
As anyone who has gone through the college process knows, it can be a tough and stressful time. From figuring out how to pay for tuition to balancing coursework with a job and social life, there’s a lot to juggle. And for students who are the first in their family to go to college, or who come from underprivileged backgrounds, the challenges can be even greater.
That’s where volunteering as a tutor or mentor comes in. By providing guidance and support, tutors and mentors can help these students navigate the college process and ultimately increase their chances of graduating.
Tutors and mentors can also serve as positive role models and provide encouragement when students are struggling. As a result, volunteering as a tutor or mentor is an important way to help create more college graduates.
7. Help create a college-going culture by talking about the importance of higher education to young people in their life
One way to help create a college-going culture in your community is by talking about the importance of higher education to young people in their lives. You can stress the importance of earning a degree or certificate, and how it can lead to better job opportunities and higher earnings.
You can also talk about how college can help people develop important skills and knowledge, and how it can broaden their perspective on the world. Finally, you can share your own personal experience with higher education, and how it has helped you in your life. By sharing your own story, you can help young people see the value of pursuing a college education.
But what are some specific venues in which to do this effectively? Below are a few ideas:
- Share your story with local media outlets: newspapers, radio stations, and TV channels are always looking for personal stories that will resonate with their audience.
- Talk to young people in your life directly: this could include your own children, nieces, and nephews, or students you work with while in your profession.
- Get involved with local organizations that work with young people: many of these organizations, such as Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and Big Brothers Big Sisters, provide opportunities for you to share your story and advice with the youth they serve.
Your community can create more college graduates by investing in you
The best way for any community to create more college graduates is by investing in you, the youth, throughout your educational career. There are many things that communities can do to create more college graduates from within that framework, but it all comes back to time, energy, and money.
That comes in the forms of mentorship, scholarships, affordable housing, and simply making it a part of the everyday conversation. Does your town do a good job of fostering college graduates? What are they doing well, and what could they be doing better? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Amazon Creative Common License]