Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Education; Everyone Can Help Keep Graduates on College Path

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Education; Everyone Can Help Keep Graduates on College Path

Article excerpt

Summer is upon us once again. While for many young people, this is a time of relaxation, camps and family vacations, those who work with college-bound students know summer as a time of great risk. Far too many students especially those from lower-income communities and families with less experience with college see their higher education hopes and ambitions melt away over the summer.

"Summer melt" is a phenomenon that occurs between high school graduation and the beginning of college. Many enrolled students, especially those coming from low-income areas and school districts, simply do not make it to campus on the first day of class. This phenomenon, according to academic literature, affects 10 to 40 percent of students nationwide, with significantly higher rates occurring among low-income and first-generation college students. The reasons range from insufficient financial aid to a lack of support from family and friends to students feeling intimidated by the bureaucracy of the college enrollment process. During the school year, college counselors and teachers address these issues and help keep students on track. During the summer months, access to this critical support is lost.

In the coming years, the St. Louis region's economy will require that more than 60 percent of adults have a high quality certificate or an associate or bachelor's degree. Our region currently stands at 43 percent of adults with some such degree. In a region called to raise racial and economic equity as an absolute priority, this number stands at only 26 percent among African-American residents. From moral, equity and economic perspectives preventing summer melt is the right thing to do. Fortunately, for the third year in a row, our region is collaborating on a solution.

The St. Louis Graduates High School to College Center has opened at 618 N. Skinker Boulevard in the Delmar Loop. College counseling and financial aid professionals from 23 schools and organizations will be available on a daily basis to support successful student transitions onto a post-secondary campus in the fall. They'll counsel students on financial aid, housing, orientation and other "what do I do now? …

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