This week, it was eye-opening to learn about the barriers to earning a Bachelor's degree for low-income students. Working in higher education and coming from a family that has extensive knowledge of the field, it's easy to forget how complex the system is. However, now I understand that it represents a major obstacle to achieving a degree for many students. When thinking about how to engage low-income students, it seems to be a very fine line to walk because higher education practitioners do not want to facilitate a stigma about this population. Each student that falls into this category also has a very different level of family/financial commitments that will affect the amount of time they may be able to spend on campus.
The first step to engaging this population of students is to get them into college. The current system of acquiring financial aid is far too complex, which was discussed in the panel we watched this week. The Higher Education Act must address this issue and find ways to simplify the process as a way to encourage higher enrollment from these students. Additionally, the K-12 system plays a key role in getting students to college because education on how to apply must be addressed earlier in a student's academic career. I believe that if we can get students thinking about college in middle school or earlier, the chances of them enrolling will increase.