Higher education also fails working-class kids by not giving them the guidance they need. The one working-class girl who did graduate in the Armstrong-Hamilton study was a young woman who was put into a special program where she received “comprehensive advising.”…More affluent students have parents who can help them figure out how to get through college — what courses to take, and when; how to manage time, get help or mercy from professors, etc….But “intensive advising” is vanishingly rare in college today. Indeed, the whole college experience is designed around the idea that students already know what’s best for them. Schools just hand freshmen catalogs with hundreds of pages worth of seemingly unrelated courses, and the freedom to choose among them.
Colleges may skimp on the advising services many students need, but they have no problem taking their money—and some are going to great lengths to make sure they are paid in full. Minnesota Daily reports that a growing number of schools have begun to file suit against students who default on their Perkins loans, federal student loans earmarked for needy students. The University of Pennsylvania filed 12 law suits against students who defaulted on their Perkins loans in 2012, and Yale University has sued former students as well. The University of Minnesota refused to state whether it has sued former students, but it can withhold transcripts if a student has unpaid loans.This would be bad enough for students who graduated, but it’s likely that some did not: Remember that Perkins loans go to lower-income students, for whom graduation rates are lower. For these students, this is the worst of both worlds. They leave college without a degree but with the debt that comes with it, and with their former school hounding them in court for the unpaid balance. Once again, America is eating its young.[Mortar boards image courtesy of Shutterstock]