The Obama administration hosted its second White House College Opportunity Day of Action, emphasizing the need to get more disadvantaged students on the path to college readiness and success. To celebrate this Day of Action, our team held viewing parties for our families and supporters to discuss our commitment to increase college opportunities for our young people in our communities.

After several hours of discussion, it was clear that our families struggled with the idea that all students should “expect” to go to college. “We believe all young people should be prepared for college. If they get the opportunity, they should go. Expecting a college education is unrealistic.”

Hoping verses Expecting

For many young people and their families, especially low-income children, attending college is a genuinely desired but elusive goal. A major factor in this mindset is the cost of college. Paying for college is a huge undertaking for many families. “Expecting a college education means you already have a way of paying for it. And, many of us don’t.”  By instilling “hope,” many families believe, their kids will still be motivated to go to college, but will be less disappointed if their dream do not come true.

Aiming for Access

Sometimes families do not see a distinction between different higher education institutions. Access to any  higher education option is considered a success. “Many of our kids have gone to college. They might not go to the school they want, but they get into a college.”  According to researchers, only “25,000 to 35,000 highest scorers on the SAT and ACT who come from low-income families don’t apply to top colleges for which they’re qualified.” Instead, these young people choose post-secondary institutions which are reasonably priced or “attend colleges and universities with low graduation rates.”

Moving from Hope to Preparedness

Even though, trends show young people have more access to higher education due to increased options via the community colleges and now online learning programs.  Families never feel that they have sufficient knowledge to make informed decisions regarding college readiness. More than ever, educators need to inform parents and students on financial aid options and difference between different degree granting programs. We ought to continue to encourage and promote that a college education can be a realistic expectation. This needs to be addressed to make a college-going culture in all communities.


  • Hechinger Report (2014). New program steers bright poor kids to top universities and colleges. Available at:

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