Across the country, academically high-achieving students from low-income, first-generation, immigrant and minority families are either forgoing, dropping out of or being undermatched for college, according to CollegePoint, a Bloomberg Philanthropies-backed virtual advising program.
CollegePoint, an online initiative created seven years ago, aims to prevent that by finding college advisors who complement these accomplished students and set them up on a pathway that will help these scholars reach both their collegiate and career goals, according to Nick Watson, the CollegePoint program lead.
“The initial creation of CollegePoint from Bloomberg Philanthropies came about because of Dr. Caroline Hoxby’s work on undermatched students,” said Watson.
In 2012, Hoxby, a professor of economics at Stanford University, published “The Missing ‘One-Offs’: The Hidden Supply of High-Achieving, Low Income Students,” which highlighted that scholars who come from economically impoverished families choose to skip college or go to “safety schools” as opposed to institutions that will challenge them, which is the opposite in behavior of high-income, high-achieving students.
Some scholars also choose more affordable colleges even though the institution might not have the exact major he or she may be looking for, according to Watson, which could result in a student dropping out of the collegiate experience altogether.
In 2019, a Brookings Institute study discovered that what it refers to as low-wage workers, 44 percent of all U.S. workers, earn a median salary of $18,000.
In 2020, a CNBC report found that 38 percent of college students worry they don’t have enough money to finish a semester in college and in August 2021, 70 percent of college students said affordability impacted their fall 2021 plans.
“They were not applying and enrolling in what we call well-matched schools or well fit schools,” said Watson. “Instead of going to a college or university that matched their academic talents, they ... ended up enrolling and applying to schools that were nine times out of 10 below their academic talents.”
At CollegePoint, once a student is matched virtually with an advisor, often one who has a major or pursued a career that the scholar is interested in, the consultant looks for schools that have one or more majors that the young adult is interested in, then helps him or her negotiate their financial aid to make sure all economic needs are met so his or her secondary education is the only focus after graduating high school.
One of the beneficiaries of the program is Rovaniaina “Rova” Raveloson, 19, of South Ozone Park, a sophomore at Vassar College and an economics major who received a letter from CollegePoint in the mail and did his research on it.
“I was very relieved to have someone guide me through the college process,” said Raveloson, a Madagascar native. “I really didn’t know what colleges were prestigious or that provided good financial aid packages.”
Rova’s advisor matched him with schools that provided 100 percent financial packages and that had a strong economics program, as well as Chinese, which he is also studying.
“I didn’t even know about this school,” said Rova who lives in the Bronx. “I looked at the matches and Vassar College stood out to me.”
Seeing how close the campus is to his home and how it met his criteria, picking the Poughkeepsie school was an easy decision for Rova to make.
“At some point ... my advisor and I established a transparent relationship,” said Rova. “This helped me to realize that I have a lot more options for me.”