Education researchers, college administrators and professors at the American Enterprise Institute expressed concern that more poor kids aren’t going to college. Yet and still, they might be luring people to college who might be better off doing something else.
For example, the University of Chicago’s Jenny Nagaoka, a deputy director with their Chicago Consortium of School Research complained that researchers are “mostly focused” on high achievers but not low- or middle-achievers.
Jessica Howell, an executive director of policy research at the College Board, agreed and said that college matching is “about more than just the academics.” She suggested that there are significant gaps in college matching, where “more affordable, closer to home, more culturally familiar” options have varying weights with low-income students looking at their college options.
Nicole Farmer Hurd, founder of the adviser-placement organization called College Advising Corps, aims to improve financial literacy. Too often in her experience, “nobody knows the difference” between grants and loans.
University of Michigan assistant professor of education Awilda Rodriguez is more concerned that “over half of college students had a high school GPA between a 2.0 and a 3.5.” In her research, she said, “First, most students believe that they would get a bachelor degree. And, of those students, only about 40% were enrolled in colleges that had above a 50% graduation rate.”
Jon Boeckenstedt, DePaul University associate vice president for enrollment, noted that college attendance rates have fallen recently and it has exacerbated the problems facing higher education. He added that economic problems are plaguing students and their families and said, “If you’re in the bottom quintile of income, your family income has fallen 14%” at least since the recession.
Lindsey Page, an assistant professor of research methodology at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center, asked why attention is being focused on high achievers and not the “other 96% of students” who are under achievers or middle-of-the-road students.