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Family and Community Assets > Academic Promise

JHarmon's picture

For many reasons, I'm compelled to say yes. I have met friends with limited resources and assets, yet through excelling academically, these people were able to find scholarship and aid to college. This is not to say though that purely academic excellence provided them a path to college. Factors like family expectations, values, and stable income were huge influences in these students' paths to college. And, if these factors were not present, I don't believe these students would excel as much as they had.


At some point, the desire to achieve is very limited by income and familial values. This is probably evident in the lives of most of us—even if we were not straight-A students, many of our parents' incomes and expectations were the reasons for our ability to go to college. Sure, academic promise is obviously part of our paths to get into college, but we cannot ignore that, for many of us (not all of us), we could never get where we are without the financial support of our parents and/or a community that valued education.


However, when a student lacks these resources, the fight towards gaining this caliber of education (Bryn Mawr or similar schools) is nearly impossible. Students with the most academic promise and passion to learn find themselves limited by financial constraints or community constraints. When a community looks down on education, I can see how uncomfortable it must be to rise above that.


For this reason, I find it naïve to believe that education is the “great equalizer” that we were taught it could be. In the scope of the American higher education system, we see the poor students from mediocre schools going to community college and the rich students from prep schools and private schools going to America's most prestigious colleges and universities. Of course, there are always exceptions, and many colleges have made efforts towards changing this, but to believe that the “playing field” is equal is just naïve. The divide between the “haves” and the “have nots” permeates through our education system, and without the means to afford it, much of America's youth, no matter how much promise they have, will never be able to obtain it.