Category Archives: College Access

College persistence and graduation

Research has shown the benefits of a college education – higher income, better health, increased civic participation and greater life satisfaction. That is good news for the 95% of Farther Foundation alumni who enroll in college. But that is not where the research ends, to reap those benefits merely going to college is not enough, graduation is the key (See the article by David Leonhardt in the New York Times blog, The Upshot).

college-selectivity-chartGraduation is far from a given when a student enters college. The national graduation rate hovers around 60% but ranges widely among colleges from 20% – 95%. Furthermore, the college graduation rate for low-income, first generation and under-represented minority students lags behind the overall national average. However, a closer look at the statistics reveals an interesting outcome. When graduation rates at individual colleges are considered, the differences between the overall graduation rates and those for low-income, first generation and under-represented minority students are greatly reduced or nearly vanish (See the research by The Education Trust).

The data clearly shows that regardless of the students’ socio-economic status some schools are better at graduating their students than others. It is important therefore for students to seek admission to those schools that have the best graduation rates. Barron’s Magazine’s Profiles of American Colleges publishes a college ranking guide that sorts colleges into categories of competitiveness. While these rankings can be debated and the alignment with graduation rates is not perfect, there is fairly strong correlation that the colleges ranked as very, highly or most competitive graduate students at a higher rate than those ranked as competitive, less competitive or noncompetitive. The Upshot went even deeper; compiling an index of those colleges it ranked as the best at doing the most for low income students (see the rankings here).

How does this relate to the work of Farther Foundation? We believe that the unique educational experiences we provide to low-income high school students – giving them the opportunity to travel away from home while participating in new experiences – gives them a broader base of knowledge and the confidence to apply to and gain admission to the best and most appropriate college for them. Research from The Education Trust found that low-income students were less likely than their higher-income counterparts to enroll in colleges in the upper half of selectivity and performance. In research specifically with Chicago Public School students, The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research found that 7 of the 10 most frequently attended colleges by CPS students have graduation rates less than 50%. Additional research indicates that CPS students tend not to seek out colleges that best align with the upper range of their abilities and qualifications.

Farther Foundation students are charting a different path. Not only are 95% of our students enrolling in college directly upon graduation from high school, but 96% of those students are graduating or remain on track to graduate from college. No doubt the college persistence shown by our students is due in great measure to their own character and capacities. However, their college choices seem to reflect a boldness and confidence that exceeds even their high achieving peers. 79% of Farther Foundation students attend colleges in the top three categories of Barron’s rankings – Very Competitive, Highly Competitive and Most Competitive. Our students’ ability to be aware of their options, and their confidence to seek out the best and most appropriate college, puts them on the path to success. We believe (and they believe) that the educational travel experiences made possible by Farther Foundation contributed greatly in fostering the knowledge and confidence that influenced their college decisions and will continue to be a positive influence in all of their future achievements.

You can help. Farther Foundation and the students we serve depend on the tax deductible donations from people like you to make these life changing experiences possible. Visit our website to make a donation online.

Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences.

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Bridging the gap in college graduation for rich and poor

Oli at Brown

Oli spent the summer at a pre-college program at Brown University

Study results released by The Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania have been all over the news today. The study paints an increasingly bleak picture regarding college graduation rates for students from low-income verse higher income families.

The study reports that, “the percentage of students from the lowest-income families — those making $34,160 a year or less — earning a bachelor’s degree has inched up just 3 points since 1970, rising from 6 to 9 percent by 2013.” Meanwhile, college completion for students from the wealthiest families has risen from 44 to 77 percent.

But this doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Students who have participated in Farther Foundation programs come from families with an average annual income of about $30,000, and yet our students have a college persistence rate of 94 percent. College persistence means that they have either graduated college or remain on track to do so. See our annual report for more details about our program and our students.

Farther Foundation students participate in unique education travel programs during high school that provide them with the motivation, experience and confidence to set their sights high and gain admission to the best colleges possible. Data shows that college graduation rates increase along with the selectivity of the college. See the report from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Farther Foundation students are demonstrating that there does not need to be a gap between rich and poor. What all students need to excel are the proper opportunities and resources so that they can reach their highest potential.

Farther Foundation and the students we serve depend on the tax deductible donations from people like you to make these life changing experiences possible. Visit our website to make a donation online.

Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences.

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Life changing experiences for deserving students

Thank you for supporting Farther Foundation and the students we serve. Thanks to you, deserving students are participating in life-changing, educational travel experiences across the country and around the world. It’s not too late to make a difference this year. Make your donation online at www.fartherfoundation.org.

Here is your impact on Farther Foundation students:

HS Graduation Rate

 

College Enrollment

 

College Persistence

 

Farther Foundation and the students we serve depend on the tax deductible donations from people like you to make these life changing experiences possible. Visit our website to make a donation online.

Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences.

Go Farther!

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Filed under College Access, Education, travel

A closed door is not a locked door

A closed door is not a locked door. Dejah knew she would have to open some new doors in order to challenge herself and achieve all the goals she has in life. Dejah used her Farther Foundation scholarship to participate in a language and cultural immersion program in Spain this past summer. Dejah is already capitalizing on her experiences having gained admission into Cornell University this past fall. Dejah shared her experience in Spain with us in an essay; Here is some of what she wrote:

Dejah 3

“We thank you for flying with us today. Welcome to Madrid!” said the flight attendant overhead.

After touching down in Spain, a mixture of anxiety and excitement began to settle in. It hit me that I was away, alone, without my parents in a foreign country, and I would be there for the next two weeks. I had no access to my cell phone, I couldn’t call people, and my Spanish was pretty choppy; you can only imagine all that went through my mind. I had never experienced what I was about to experience. 

Although every friendship or relationship we have with people may have an expiration date, the amount that we learn about ourselves between that time line, will last forever.

The first surprise came with my host family. Mariela, my host mom, had met me at the bus station in Salamanca. She only spoke Spanish, which I loved, because then I was forced to only speak Spanish; that’s really what I was in Spain to do. She cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner for us every day, and every day the food on the table was different. From paella to pork to chorizos to lentils to the Spanish tortilla, every meal was another introduction into the Spanish culture. I love to joke with my roommate that I’d tasted more types of vegetables, meats, and fruits in those two weeks that I had before in a single year.

Speaking of my roommate, her name was Natalia, and she was  from Poland. After leaving Spain, it was very hard to say goodbye to someone that I had spent so much time with for the past two weeks.  I learned so much from her, about her country, Poland, about herself, about myself, and about the type of relationships we build with people. I realized that we’re always learning from people; from the man in the telephone store who tells me, “No no no chica. No es gracias mucho. Es muchas gracias.” To the children running around Salamanca at 12 am, reminding me never to take life too seriously; we’re really all still kids inside. To my roommate, Natalie, who has taught me that there is really not much of a difference between people; although our skin or hair or language may be different, when it comes down to it all, we’re pretty similar. I’ve come to the conclusion that although every friendship or relationship we have with people may have an expiration date, the amount that we learn about ourselves between that time line, will last forever.

Leaving Spain, I realized so many things that I had never realized about myself. I realized that my life, my home, my city, was just a dot on a map that was a thousand times greater. I now see that the world isn’t just Chicago. The world is made up of students from Poland, Russia, France, Italy. My trip to Spain injected me with an infectious bug to travel; now that I’ve seen more of the world, I don’t ever want to stop. I hope that I can inspire other students to step outside of their comfort zone; go to another country far away and see what it’s like to feel like a foreigner for once. Not only was my mind expanded, but also the four corners I surround myself within. I left knowing that my four corners no longer stopped within the boundaries of Chicago; they surpassed them.

Farther Foundation and the students we serve depend on the tax deductible donations from people like you to make these life changing experiences possible. Visit our website to make a donation online.

Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences.

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Filed under College Access, eduactional travel grants, scholarships, travel

An Adventure in Norway

 

 

Don’t forget Giving Tuesday on 12/2/14. You can make your tax deductible donation at www.fartherfoundation.org.

Jacqueline battled the elements and some personal fears when she decided to participate in a rugged outdoor adventure in Norway. Her experience was a world away, in so many ways, from her home in Chicago. Jacqueline shared her experience with us in an essay that tied for first place in our 2014 student essay contest. Here is some of what she wrote:unnamed

“Never in my wildest dreams did I believe I would ever stand on top of a mountain, breathing in the beauty of Norway. Me. A 14 year old Mexican-American, coming from a single parent, low income household. Never did I imagine I would be surrounded by natural beauty, by the roar of a waterfall dropping off a cliff edge, the cawing of the birds, the gleam the jellyfish sparkled once the sun hit the top of their soft heads. Never did I imagine that I would make it this far.

“Kayaking. Traveling through the Baltic Sea in these banana shaped boats. Fantastic”, I thought to myself as I realized that yes, we will be kayaking for the next 5 days or so. At first, the nausea kicked in. I don’t know how to swim, and being in a tiny boat in the middle of a sea for most of the day? Um, crazy idea. I then realized that hey, maybe it won’t be so bad. After all I had a life vest. So I ran across the frigid water hugging the shoreline the first day, and jumped into my banana shaped form of transportation. I had one of my group leaders, John, as my partner. I was kinda bummed out, because c’mon now, he was a group leader. He was probably going to nag me with all the rules for the rest of the day. I sighed, as I positioned myself, and helped paddle our kayak off the shore line. It was quite a struggle at first, for a girl with no upper body strength, kayaking through the Baltic Sea. It had its difficulties. I remember often falling asleep while kayaking from the exhaustion. But John, he was always there to paddle for both of us. I felt horrible, yes. I tried not to fall asleep much.  I remember our second night of kayaking. We had to hike for about 45 minutes to our campsite. For a girl that got tired walking to the fridge outside her room? That was torture.  Gotta show ‘em that even though I might have been young, I had grit. So I made it to the top. Slowly but surely.

As I mentioned before, I can’t swim.  I think the most challenging part was the fact that I had to make an attempt to swim off to the raft that was located in the middle of the river, so that I could prove that I could do it. That was the physical challenge. The metal challenge was to not think of my friend, Silas- who died drowning. I remember pep talking to myself, saying how I had made it so far, I couldn’t die now. But I was afraid of getting stuck under the raft if I fell, of hitting my head on a rock maybe too hard, of getting washed away with the strong currents. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so much thrill, such of feeling of being alive; the moment the first ice cold wave hit me square on the face. That’s when I knew things had just gotten real. I forgot about my inability to swim, my fear of dying, my fear of not making it, and I focused on paddling. “Paddle. Breathe. Hold on. Paddle. Breathe. Hold on.” I chanted to myself, over and over again. Finally, our guide, Russmuss, told us we survived the first part- just 3 more to go.  I now plan on trying out white water kayaking.

Hiking was the section where I seriously considered breaking my arm in order to get sent home. I just couldn’t do it. Carrying a 40 pound bag on my back, walking through rough terrain, mud, water, unsteady bridges? I felt like I wouldn’t survive. I whined so much to John, I’m surprised he didn’t beat me with a stick. John and Hannah where my saviors. They motivated to keep me going. John told me, “It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you get there.” I use that in day to day life now, when I feel like I’m not fast enough in whatever situation I might be. I also used this saying, I’m unsure on who said it, but it went something like this, “The mind tends to give up faster than your body.” I live by this now. Every time I feel like giving up, I think about this. I reflect, and realize that I can keep on going. That I have to have drive, and just do it.

Before this trip, I was a different person. I allowed depression to take over my life. I didn’t want to live, what was there to live for? I didn’t care. But now… how have I changed. I realized that I need to do something with my life.  I want to go camping, get more in touch with nature. Feel alive. Feel the crisp air of a mountain once again. Sleep in a tent, serenade yourself to the song of a native bird. I’ve matured. I’ve realized that mother nature is beautiful, and that we have to take care of her, before its too late. This trip has inspired me to travel and meet new places. This trip, it molded me to a whole new different person. And for that, I am eternally grateful.”

Farther Foundation and the students we serve depend on the tax deductible donations from people like you to make these life changing experiences possible. Visit our website to make a donation online.

Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences.

Go Farther!

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Filed under College Access, eduactional travel grants, scholarships, travel