Students Fight to Defy Dropout Rates During COVID-19
As COVID-19 cases surge nationwide and colleges rethink their opening plans, some experts are predicting higher percentages of students stopping their classes due to physical or fiscal constraints than ever before. However, some students are fighting harder than ever to stay on track to earn their degree, more determined than ever to not let circumstances stop them. In a recent article from USA Today, author Suzanne Hirt profiled a few of these students, their motivations, and what they’re up against.
Low-income students are already at a disadvantage when it comes to completing degree requirements. Hirt reports on one Pell Institute study that found that just 11% of people in the lowest income bracket get a bachelor’s degree by the time they are 24. The struggles of low-income students have only been compounded in the face of the pandemic, with already prevalent issues, such as food or housing insecurity, being magnified. When adding on the additional lack of campus resources for things like quiet study spaces, WiFi, and technology, it can quickly become insurmountable for any student.
For people like Yesenia Vargas, a student at UC Merced, the problems posed by COVID-19 became another reason not to quit. Inspired by her parents’ journey when immigrating to the United States, she never gave up – even when her spring semester turned into her being taken away to babysit, borrowing a computer, and camping out in her sister’s room to get WiFi. “I was not going to allow my circumstances to stop me from attending class,” Vargas said.
Vargas isn’t alone. Students across the nation share her determination and spirit. Some programs, like ScholarMatch, of which Vargas is a part, are set up to help these students, especially through times like these, by supplying rent money, food, school supplies, or technology. The company helped Vargas by giving her a laptop and better WiFi so that she could complete her schoolwork.
Though ScholarMatch can only do so much given their limited funding and reliance on donations and community partnerships, for the students who benefit from it, it is a game changing level of support. One that can even outlast a pandemic. Other support networks, like College Possible, are also seeing an influx in students in need of aid to stay on track to graduate despite the pandemic. For low-income, first-generation, and students of color, these programs are vital, providing a guiding hand and the resources to complete their dreams.
Despite everything, students across the nation are hanging on tight, fighting for their education, defying the odds.
Read the full article here.