For Poor Students, Why College Should Be More Than A Path to Upward Mobility

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Educators often try to motivate students to work hard in school by emphasizing that college is the best path towards economic and social mobility. In his Atlantic article, Andrew Simmons questions whether that should be the motivating factor for students from less-privileged backgrounds. Getting a college education isn't just about earning money in the future, it's also about intellectual passion.

"College should be 'sold' to all students as an opportunity to experience an intellectual awakening. All students should learn that privilege is connected to the pursuit of passions. People are privileged to follow their hearts in life, to spend their time crafting an identity instead of simply surviving. Access to higher education means that your values and interests can govern your choices."

The Danger of Telling Poor Kids That College Is the Key to Social MobilityA 12th-grader wrote a college admissions essay about wanting to pursue a career in oceanography. Let's call her Isabella. A few months ago, we edited it in my classroom during lunch. The writing was good, but plenty of 17-year-olds fantasize about swimming with whales.

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