Now more than ever, there is a push to getting more of our nation’s students geared towards a post-secondary education. In support of college attainment ,the Lumina Foundation, a private and independent organization, claims “College-level learning is seen as key – to individual prosperity, to economic security, and to the enduring strength of our democracy.” There is then a great incentive for such a push to educate more students up to the college level. An overall change in the pace of students going off and actually completing their college degrees has been noted nation-wide. Even with the college attainment levels rising, there is more that could be done.
Such a pace (if continued) will be unable to keep up with the increasing rate of jobs requiring degrees beyond high school.
Not too long ago, Americans held the No. 1 in the world with college degrees. According to the Department of Education, the country slid to 16th in college degree attainment among adults world-wide. Again, even if the rate to counteract this is picking up, it is still not quick enough. For this reason among others, in an address to Congress of 2009 President Obama called for America to increase the number of degree-holders to at least 60% by the end of the decade.
“That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world,” Obama stated. This would be the infamous 2020 Goal.
Only the question remains whether or not that goal is attainable. Is this goal being reached as far as classrooms go?
A freshman and Legal Studies major at UC Santa Cruz, Jessica, provided her input. She described seeing many of her friends going to college along with her. Jessica herself had moved away, two hours away from home, to attend college and shared it was a difficult transition.
But on the distance she remarked, “Being so far away from home, I feel like: le echo mas ganas.”
When asked about her motivation to go to school, Jessica responded, “Because I see my parents struggling financially, so much to support me here, I have to keep going. I know that it is up to me to do that.”
“It is hard to keep towards my goal of graduating,” she admits. Explaining, she described the struggle to maintaining a balance with extracurriculars, work, and school work. On top of which she noted that is made all the more challenging with getting the resources needed to succeed.
But even so, there have been various note-worthy catalysts in the college attainment struggle. Among the catalysts would be the many programs throughout the country that have sparked ambition and excellence in many students.
Such programs would include: Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), Upward Bound, TRIO, Educational Talent Search (ETS), and Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP).
Jessica herself would agree to the success of these programs. She’s participated in a few of those mentioned above and like most college students, the resources are welcome.
“College is difficult as it is. I know with work, I will finish what I started last August. It’s just a matter of time and effort,” Jessica commented.
Xiomara, a UC Berkeley Political Science major student talked about this as well. ”The focus for me, these past three years, has been on walking the stage. And time and effort has certainly got me looking at graduating in less than a month from today,” Xiomara stated.
Time and effort it seems, is universal to what it is, is needed to get students off to college as well as graduating with degrees.
And despite the challenges, many students like Jessica and Xiomara would admit that the work is well worth it. More than worth the work, it is also possible for students to go off to college. The possibility is certainly there, but like many college students would agree, getting to and through college is work.