RuthWeirichI recently read an article titled, The Good that Community Colleges Do, Part 1. What I like about this article is not the controversy or whether practitioners and politicians agree or disagree about the four key areas that the author addresses. What I like is that these four topics provide opportunities for first-generation, under-resourced students that they may not be able to obtain from other institutions. It provides an opening to work towards a degree that can offer stability for the individual, businesses and the community.

Open Doors – Coming from an environment of instability, some students might finish a GED program at the community college and then work on developmental studies. Test scores and grades are not an obstacle for admission to a community college; life and the tyranny of the moment are.

Second Chances – The average age of a community college student is twenty-nine. Many of these students haven’t studied for ten years or more. There are many reasons why they are coming back: they want more earning power or a special degree; they are now ready academically and socially; the children are old enough – and more. With the open door policies of two-year schools, this is the perfect place for individuals coming from poverty to begin.

Early Entry – Dual enrollment has been around for some time, and even four-year institutions are now partnering with high schools. We do have students living in daily instability that get a head start from this wonderful benefit.

Economic Value – For those living in daily economic instability, it is imperative that there are affordable higher education options. Not many of us can afford the burden of debt when we graduate, but we know this is particularly true for those with entry-level, lower wage positions. Many times the local college is the only affordable option for our under-resourced students.

Many of our first-generation, under-resourced students living in daily instability start their higher education experience at a two-year college. The doors are open. Now, how do you support them, retain them and graduate them?

Join Bethanie Tucker, co-author of Understanding and Engaging Under-Resourced College Students on June 3rd at 11:00am CDT for our webinar, Tackling the College Retention Rate Challenge,to learn more about how to better support your first generation, under-resourced student population.