Does Kauffman Put Too Much Emphasis on Four-Year Schools?

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College access experts increasingly lament the small percentage of low-income youths entering college who achieve the more important goal: making it out of college. (See related story, College Opportunity Knocks, But Often Gets No Answer.)

“We [the United States] don’t really have that much of an access problem,” said Clifford Adelman, a college access expert and senior associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, a research and policy center based in Washington, D.C. “We have a problem with the participation and completion rate. That’s where the problem is.”

While Kauffman Scholars has been effective at getting youths into college, some wonder whether the program puts too much emphasis on the four-year college experience at the expense of other options, such as community colleges or other post-secondary training and education. Among the organization’s Class 1 Scholars who started college this fall, 80 percent went to four-year institutions.

 “That tells me that they obviously are putting an emphasis on admission to four-year colleges,” said Larry Warford, project director for the College and Careers Transition Initiative and senior consultant for workforce development at the Phoenix, Ariz.-based League for Innovation in the Community College.

Warford said one of the reasons youths become disengaged from academics is because they’re bored.

“And they’re bored a lot of the time because they don’t see the connection between what they’re being asked to learn in school and what they might be doing in a job in the future,” Warford said. “In other words, the curriculum is not contextualized or applied.”