Is College For Everybody?

I have worked in college counseling for almost 15 years now. My job is to make sure that students who come from traditionally marginalized communities — first generation, low income, ethnic minority — get accepted into college, and finish with their degree.

As somebody whose job it is to make sure education is accessible to everyone, I wholeheartedly believe that yes, college is for everyone.

The question itself is almost absurd. It creates a slippery slope as we then ask ourselves, “What are human rights? What things should be accessible to everyone?” Should clean drinking water be for everyone? Should food be for everyone? Should housing be for everyone? Should healthcare be for everyone?

While many of us would agree that humans deserve access to these, not everyone agrees. There are plenty of people who do not believe that humans deserve access to food, or a home, or healthcare. The very question “Is college for everyone?” is proposed by these same groups of people — the ones who indeed believe that college should not be accessible for everyone. There are millions of people who have every intention of seeing low income people, black people, Hispanic people, minorities, and traditionally marginalized groups gatekeeped from higher education.

Education is one of the necessary items for functioning in society. It is through education that we learn our most basic skills like reading, writing and mathematics. Education also provides us with the social and emotional skills we need to function in society.

A college education is beneficial in a multitude of ways. It provides specialized training in the field a student wants to find a career in. It provides internship and networking opportunities to help students launch their career path. College is also a time that students are able to experience things they wouldn’t otherwise – from clubs, to sports, to studying abroad, and more. College is a once in a lifetime experience.

Studies show that students who go to college earn much higher wages than students who don’t have a higher education, and this salary increases as students get a bachelor, masters, and doctorate. Students who go to college are also less likely to live in poverty, less likely to be incarcerated, and less likely to be teenage parents.

College should be for everyone. Unfortunately, at the current moment, not everyone has equal access to college. There are numerous factors that keep students in marginalized communities from attending college. Many students simply don’t have the money to attend. They aren’t familiar with the various colleges and universities. They attend high schools that don’t offer rigorous coursework or extracurriculars. They don’t have teachers or parents in their lives who are as knowledgeable about the college application process, or are constantly pushing for their success.

My goal is to make sure that every student has access to a college education. That means talking to students early on about what careers interest them. It means helping students develop a list of colleges they want to apply to. It means helping students with their essays, resumes, and portfolios. It means working with them on their financial aid and scholarship applications.

For students who come from these marginalized communities, college is perhaps more important than it is for anybody else. College is about breaking the cycle of poverty. It is about helping students get the education they need to move into a great paying career. It is about giving them new experiences outside of the impoverished world they currently live in. When a student goes to college, it’s not just a victory for the student. It’s a win for their entire family and community. It’s a win for the entire world. So yes, we are going to continue to fight for all students to have access to a college education.

Because yes, college is for everyone.