Last semester I was enrolled in an educational policy course that focused on the policies for K-12 Eduacation. It was valuable to learn the options parents, students, and teachers are given at that level to determine where higher education institutitons would be able to take advantage of servicing low income students before their first semester in college. I just perused through an article by Butrymowicz that illustrates how Australia surpassed the U. S. in graduating low income and first generation students. Through the program Fast Forward, eligbilble students (low-income or single parent family, first in their family to enter a higher education program, at least one unemployed parent or be in foster care) are taught how to study effectively, visit campuses, how to apply to college and scholarship opportunities within the first three years. During their final year in highschool, seniors attended sessions that helped them create and build on their resumes, challenged their personal and professional career goals, introduced them to the benefit of study abroad, and be basics of adjusting to college life.
Throughout this course, we have continuously mentioned the lack of funding higher education institutions receive via the government, especially for international programs in the U. S. Ultimately, the students that are able to participate in these types of programs are wealthier students because they can afford it. Although Australia hasn’t experienced budget cuts to this program like American insitutions have been struggling to overcome, the concept of the government giving schools money to educate low-income and first generation students earlier is conducive to closing the gaps amongst classes. As we have discussed in class and from my own personal experience, students will stay and graduate if they successfully acclimate to the college experience. Factors that have a major influence on acclimation include joining clubs/organizations, preparation and knowledge of what to expect before the first class, less stress on financial matters, and having an overall positive, impactful learning opportunity (study abroad). Imagine each institution signing a contractual oath each with the government explaining in detail how its misson and strategic plans carries out the government’s goals on higher education. Instead of orientations in two weeks before school, eligble high school students and parents are being groomed for post-secondary education. This means parents can learn to start saving earlier for their children to partake in study abroad programs. I can only see a win-win result.