A few years ago, David Leonhardt of the New York Times wrote an article discussing the benefits of marginal students graduating with a bachelor’s degree.
Marginal students would be those with low GPAs and/or low standardized testing scores. They are on the outside looking in.
Two studies researching marginal students showed that half of the students from Georgia who were admitted earned bachelor’s degrees and in Florida, admitted students earned twenty-two percent more than those just below the admissions cutoff who didn’t attend college.
Economist Seth Zimmerman, shocked by the results of his Florida study, said, “If you give these students a shot, they’re ready to succeed.”
The two most important aspects of educational success for all students are reading and parental interaction. Knowing the benefits of higher education, parents need to be intentional about having college planning conversations.
Discuss the benefits of going to college with your teenagers in everyday conversations. “When you attend college…” “With the connections you make in college…” “As you are preparing for your future career…” “When you graduate with your bachelor’s degree…”
Help them visualize walking on campus, being successful, and overcoming obstacles.
Research shows that persistence increases with each subsequent family member that attends and/or graduates from college. Even parents who did not graduate high school support their student’s desire to attend college.
In addition, teaming up with an educational consultant or school counselor so they can recommend the right careers and place them in the right colleges is an important part of giving marginal students a chance to enroll.
Leonhardt shared that the two independent studies showed that “enrolling in a four-year college brings large benefits to marginal students.” Marginal students who are given a chance to challenge themselves can be successful. Research shows that “students do better when they stretch themselves and attend the most selective college that admits them, rather than undermatching.”
Calen, at twenty-nine years old did not graduate high school or earn his GED. Yet, he enrolled in college and at the end of one semester, his grade in calculus was a 97! He earned his bachelor’s degree and is working on his master’s degree.
Even with a national six-year graduation rate at fifty-six percent, some don’t believe marginal students should be encouraged to attend college because of the debt incurred. Yet, “most people with no college education are struggling mightily in the 21st-century economy.”
Since attending college benefits everyone, we need to support our students and help them attend college.
And remind them of the benefits of a graduating with a bachelor’s degree – which is better than just attending.
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.