As I was scrolling through the NCTE inbox this morning I noticed this title, “First Generation’ Documentary Raises the Question: Is Higher Education Only for the Wealthy?” It caught my attention because I hear so many people complaining about how expensive school is, student loans, dropping out becuase they can’t afford it, and that college is just simply a “waste of time.” Jaye Fenderson is a former admissions officer of Columbia University and the director/ producer of the ‘First Generation’ documentary which features four high school juniors across California and their journey on applying to colleges and other struggles along the way. Jaye found that less than 10% of college students came from the lowest income families across the United States. This is a devastating statistic and the message that it is sending out is far worse; if you do not have money, then you can’t go to college. That is not true at all!
Jaye and her husband Adam found that high income students have better access to information and more support from their families, schools, and communities. There are so many scholarships, grants, and programs available to students. Educators, community directors, and parents must help the students achieve their goals by leading them in the right direction. This documentary that has been shown to high school students in low-income areas, the students leave with their heads held high and feeling good about applying to college. It is a good feeling to know that there are other people like you in the world, struggling and dealing with lifes difficulties.
Jaye and Adam have been promoting this documentary and it shows not only the students hard times but the United States as a whole,”We also interviewed educational experts about the social and economic ramifications for the U.S. if we continue on this trend of failing to graduate more low-income students from college. The result is that our nation is on track to be short millions of college degrees, resulting in billions of dollars in loss to our economy. ” It is not just low-income communities, this has become a nation wide problem and we need to help fix it. Jaye and Adam have started a campaign for students who come from low-income families and continue to hold discussions for students who desire to go to college but are left with so many unanswered questions.