When Being ‘College Material’ Isn’t Enough

 In Financial Aid Revolution

Finally!  I’ve spent the summer planning to announce the launch of my first blog that would empower college access advocates, students and parents to really challenge their views of the financial aid process. A journalism major, I was excited to finally return to my first love, writing, especially since I have so many passionate opinions about the financial aid process, low-income families, and the college access community as a whole.  Like most bloggers, I outlined a series of topics, some controversial, some educational, that I hoped would spark conversations, then collaboratives, then… a Financial Aid Revolution!

And then Michael Brown case happened. While the country has responded in varying degrees of outrage for me there was a distinct sadness as I honed in on the fact that Michael was preparing to go to attend his first college class just days before he was killed.  These past few weeks one question lingered in my thoughts, “What happens when being ‘college material” isn’t enough?”

As an Open Society Foundation Black Male Achievement Fellow, I set out to prove to 1000 black males that college was a realistic possibility this past academic year.  While admirable, I can’t help but feel a tinge of frustration, because no matter how many Scholarship Lunches or Boot Camps we host with black males across the country, the Michael Brown case illuminates the reality that simply getting black males into college isn’t enough.  If Brown, just days away from the college dream could meet such a horrendous fate, who am I to tell black boys that college is the gateway to success?

The answer, for me, lies in sheer numbers.  If I can play even a small part in helping 100 Michael Brown’s enroll in college, then maybe, just maybe, my work can help move the needle in re-defining what “college material” looks like in urban communities.  This is the heart of the Financial Aid Revolution.  It’s about a challenge to young people, to college access providers, and even to parents, to take ownership of the financial aid process.  It is my hope that this blog will serve as a platform for thought leaders to share ideas, to engage in dialogue and ultimately to create an environment where all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, are viewed as college material.  Stay tuned!


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