Changing the Dialogue: How We Can Push Low-Income, Top Performing Students into Competitive Colleges

(Ariana and I posing with her University of California, Irvine acceptance letter-a proud and exciting moment for both of us!)

(Ariana and I posing with her University of California, Irvine acceptance letter–a proud and exciting moment for both of us!)

By: Alex Serna, Program Director, Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano

It was as if we were negotiating a nuclear treaty and for the last 4 years she worked assiduously to someday realize her dreams of becoming the first in her family to attend college. Then, that someday arrived. We sat and discussed her college list. The air was still as the crisp, cool fall ambient enveloped our conversation leading to a moment that became the turning point in her life. For many high-achieving, low-income students “undermatch” is a real phenomenon, one that Brookings defines as, “students attending less challenging colleges than their academic credentials would allow them to.” The New York Times credits this trend with widening economic inequality and low levels of mobility. These academically promising students, “wind up in community college or mediocre four-year schools”, with less financial, academic and social support leading to high rates of attrition (NPR). But, “undermatch” can either be realized or be overcome with dialogue. However, let me be clear; we are not talking about simple dialogue-but a relentless, aspirational dialogue focused on acknowledging the student’s strengths rather than their weaknesses.  Read More

A Cinderella Story for the Modern Girl

jessie and mom graduation

By: Jessie Ryan, Executive Vice President, Campaign for College Opportunity

In honor of Mother’s Day, Executive Vice President, Jessie Ryan, shares the instrumental role her mother played in the work that she does today.

Last August, after courageously waging a two-year battle with cancer, my Mother passed away.  She was my person.  My source of unconditional love, laughter, and encouragement.  A larger than life personality, that despite a life characterized by hardship was responsible for shaping me into the purpose-driven woman I am today. Read More

Why the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) Matters

tuffy & Linda
By: Linda Vasquez, Regional Affairs Director

The promise of higher education accessibility is deeply tied to the availability of financial aid programs for those with the highest need. That’s why federal aid that supports American students across the nation is so important. Unfortunately, in President Trump’s proposed budget, a critical program, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), is at risk of being eliminated.

There is endless amount of research that I could cite for you that demonstrate how a grant such as the FSEOG can serve as a critical tool to increasing college access, especially among underrepresented and underserved students, but the most powerful proof will come straight from a student who benefited from it. Read More

Supporting College Student Access and Success: Making Sure Hard Work Pays Off

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By: Audrey Dow, Senior Vice President, The Campaign for College Opportunity

This blog is an excerpt from the panel on “Supporting College Student Access and Success” from the American Educational Research Association conference on January 17, 2017. Our Senior Vice President, Audrey Dow, gave remarks on policy opportunities that could help address college student access and success. Please click the video above to watch the entire remarks.

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Working Towards a Brighter Future

group of black students

By: Olga Jimenez, Communications Associte, The Campaign for College Opportunity

This month we celebrated Black History Month; a month where as a nation we commemorate the history, struggles, accomplishments and contributions of African Americans. This time is especially important to California as it is home to the nation’s fifth largest Black population in the country.

Here at the Campaign, Black History Month is a time to reflect on how well our public colleges and universities are supporting Black students in reaching their college goals because we know that a college degree not only propels students’ lives, it greatly benefits our state.

Black students today are more likely to graduate from high school and college than they were a decade ago, but far too many still face barriers accessing college and far too few graduate with a college credential. Given the size and importance of the Black community in California, working to improve college going and success is vital. Fortunately, there are a number of campus programs in our public colleges and universities that are working to improve the experience and success of Black students and we are pleased to share three examples with you. Read More