How Australia Beats The U.S. For Graduating Low-Income College Students

Career College Central summary:

  • Forty percent of Australians ages 25 to 34 whose parents did not earn a degree have themselves graduated from college. In the U.S., the figure is just 14%. Here’s how the Lucky Country became a leader for social mobility among developed nations.
  • Students in polos and plaids streamed into the auditorium at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) as Lorde’s “Royals” blasted on repeat. While she sang about having “no post-code envy,” hundreds of low-income high school seniors and students who would be the first in their families to go to college took their seats. Ahead of them was a day of panels and information sessions on college and careers put on by Fast Forward, a UWS program that reaches out to economically disadvantaged groups.
  • They listened as the keynote speaker, UWS professor James Arvanitakis, told them about attending his first class — bringing a Tupperware container full of lamb so he could make friends and a passport in case he needed identification. No one in his family had ever attended university and no one knew what he should take with him.
  • Thanks to Fast Forward, a federally funded program started in 2004, the students at the conference will be more prepared. In 2013 half of participating high school seniors went straight on to a bachelor’s-degree program at a university. At least another 20% had plans to get into the schools through nontraditional routes such as technical education programs or preparation courses.

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