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The Important M's in Preparing Students for College

Professor Sara Goldrick-Rab's Keynote Address for the MPS TEAM UP College and Career Success Network Key Practices for Postsecondary Success, March 29, 2014

Minh Mai

on 9 April 2014

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Transcript of The Important M's in Preparing Students for College

We have a college completion challenge, especially for students from moderate and lower-income families.
What can we do?
Help students develop more than one plan for making ends meet while attending college

Every student needs in-depth conversation about money before college.
Wisconsin Scholars Longitudinal Study
3,000 Pell Grant recipients from all over the state
Factors that relate to each other:
Financial aid receipt
Students often find that they lose confidence - in their academic abilities and their ability to pay for college- over time.
SAP: Satisfactory Academic Progress
Students on financial aid come to learn this is the key barrier.
Three Important M’s in Preparing Students for COLLEGE: Money, Math, and Mom

Thank you!
The challenges tend to belong to one of three categories: academics, financial, social.
High-Income Families
Low-Income Families
Only 11% of students from low-income families in the U.S. earn bachelor's degrees versus 79% of students born into high-income families.

= No Bachelor's Degree
= Earned Bachelor's Degree
An estimated 70% of Milwaukee Public School students need math remediation in college.
After taking all grants and scholarships into account, students from low-income families are left to pay $12,480 a year to attend UW-Milwaukee. Even at Milwaukee Area Technical College they have to pay $6574.
How will they ensure getting good grades?

Where are their parents in this equation?
Urge students to take math during senior year of high school
Discuss the tradeoff between number of classes and GPA
Help moms (and dads) think through (with their child) how they will help each other succeed during college including time management and money management
Provide safe spaces for moms (and dads) to share their worries and anxieties about life at home while their is in college
To summarize:
Being able to pay for college often requires financial aid.
Financial aid requires a positive relationship with parents.
Financial aid often requires good grades.
But students who need a lot of financial aid often have struggles with both grades and parents

The result: STRESS
Parents whose kids need a lot of financial aid often don't know how to help them with academics and face their own financial struggles.
A declining % of MPS students are planning to attend college, according to surveys (down from 75% in 2011 to 70% in 2012). This trend is also occurring nationally, and even among well-prepared students.
More students are reporting that cost is among the top 2 things influencing where there they attend college.
Only 43% of MPS seniors planning on attending college said that they had discussed how to pay for college in-depth with someone at their school. 11% said they hadn’t talked with anyone about it.
Most efforts to help students aim at just ONE of these three things are related.
But in real life these three things are all related.
Together let's examine what this looks like for today's undergraduates.

Then, let's talk about ways to address these realities in their lives.
Academics, Financial, Social
Tracked since they began college in fall 2008
Credits taken
Parental emotional + financial support
College retention
Students try to manage their course/credit loads in order to get good grades.
This often means changing academic plans from term to term- students who try to
their program then
after hitting bumps, and vice versa.

Taking credit-bearing coursework too soon can cause SAP problems

Taking too many credits, or too few, can cause SAP problems

SAP problems mean students try to do school with even fewer resources

SAP problems mean families cannot access federal loans
Year 1
40% of WSLS students felt they received strong financial support from parents; that declined to 28% by Year 2.
Year 2
Only 54% of WSLS students felt they received
strong emotional support
from parents while attending college.
Emotional support from parents and financial strength are related:

31% of WSLS students who felt they had little emotional support from parents reported having trouble paying bills (compared to 16% of those with strong emotional support).
Money can also mean supporting family - we found that more than 1/3 of WSLS students said they
provided financial help to their families
during college.
Prezi by:

27% of WSLS students felt they received little financial support from parents; that increased to 37% by year 2.
Sara Goldrick-Rab
Associate Professor
Educational Policy Studies &

Founding Director
Wisconsin HOPE Lab

43% of MPS students going to college have parents who did not attend college. Many more have parents who did not
The number one factor MPS students consider when choosing a college is the desire to
be close to home
Full transcript