Harold Levy Speaks with Kavitha Cardoza About "Lower Income, Higher Ed"

WAMU reporter Kavitha Cardoza’s “Lower Income, Higher Ed” audio documentary was a wakeup call to many in the higher education sphere. Part of the investigative Breaking Ground series, Cardoza shares the story of a high-achieving student beginning and then dropping out of college just months after stepping foot on campus. The documentary is interspersed with surprising statistics about the unique obstacles that first-generation and low-income students encounter when they begin as college freshman.

What are some of the reasons these promising young students leave school? Cardoza followed up with Executive Director Harold Levy to learn more:

There’s a national problem of kids, high performing low income kids, not going to the right schools. There’s a national problem of colleges not providing core guidance counseling support. And there’s a national problem of not having an affirmative effort to try and reach these kids before they really get into trouble. If there’s not an affirmative, assertive effort to try and help them, we fail. And it’s not good enough to say “Well here’s a great big sign, come if you have a problem.”

Cardoza discovered that many organizations are looking for ways to fill this gap, such as Virginia Commonwealth University’s “intrusive advising” for academically at-risk students and the practice of keeping small groups of students together through the instition’s freshman courses. At the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, our scholars have access to advisors and a generous last-dollar scholarship to support the emotional and financial challenges of college.

Listen to the soundbite and find a transcript of Cardoza’s conversation with Harold Levy on WAMU.org. Or delve deeper into the full “Lower Income, Higher Ed” documentary.

We also encourage current high school students, families, and educators to learn more about the Cooke College Scholarship Program for talented low-income students. The application is open now through November 3, 2015:

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