I grew up in Flint, Michigan, where I recently have been fortunate to complete Mott Community College and am looking forward to continuing my education at University Michigan in the Fall. Unfortunately, many other young people in Flint will not experience the same opportunities. This can be for a wide range of personal reasons, but often, students just don’t know they have access to higher education. It has always saddened me because I know the youth in Flint can do much better and achieve much more. A way to overcome barriers, be it socio-economic or being from a traditionally underrepresented background, is through education. I want to empower youth all over the country to understand why going to college is vital and that there are programs that will help students throughout their journeys toward better futures.
Unfortunately, many underrepresented communities are unable to get the supports and services other groups are accustomed to when picking, applying to, and enrolling in college, like counseling and job shadowing. When I was in high school we only had one counselor, and it was completely impossible for him to meet with all of us. Because we lacked resources, students at my school didn’t typically focus on college until our senior year. However my high school isn’t the only school that lacks counselors. Recent data from 2013-2014, around the time I was applying for college, shows that in Michigan there were only 2,115 counselors to oversee over 1.5 million students. Luckily, I was able to get the necessary resources through the Upward Bound program where I was able to go on field trips and college visits that allowed me explore all my options. Upward Bound is a federal program that supports students to succeed in high school, their precollege activities, and ultimately in their higher education pursuits. Because not everyone is aware of or has access to these programs, it makes choosing a college more difficult, not to mention choosing a major.
Another reason many teenagers overlook pursuing a postsecondary education is because they don’t know what they want to do for a career or even have the slightest clue about all the occupations that are out there. If we start showing students possibilities of jobs they could do in the future, they would start planning accordingly. My goal is to start setting up seminars that will allow youth to speak to a range of professionals, particularly in high-paying fields, such as doctors, nurses, attorneys, social workers, engineers, business owners, and more, so students can start to get a feel of possible career choices.
Students also need to be clearly aware of the financial aspects of college and what being in a college classroom is really like, including expectations like how to take notes, if you can record lectures, how often you should study for specific classes, and which sets of homework, projects, and tests will contribute to your final grade. In looking into these questions, I think a lot of people would realize that starting at a community college first isn’t so bad after all. It can allow you to get a feel for college at a much cheaper rate and also allows you to plan for what’s next to come in the future.
Postsecondary education is becoming increasingly necessary to succeed in our modern day world. Georgetown University released a not so shocking statistic that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the economy will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school. It is imperative that young people are made aware of opportunities that can afford them a college degree. As a generation, we must push for a greater level of access to higher education for all students regardless of their background. Job shadowing, mentoring informational session, teaching financial literacy and internships such as this are vital to the revitalization of this generation.
My name is Precious Thompson, I am a 20 year old native from Flint, Michigan! After high school, I decided it would be smart to start off at a community college. I went to Mott Community College my first two years. This Fall I will be attending the University of Michigan where I will continue pursuing a career in nursing. I decided to become a nurse because I want to help people through what may be the worst day of their life. I believe it’s the little things that make the big difference. This summer I am interning in Washington D.C with Young Invincibles in Organizing department!