College visits and reducing Culture shock


Oftentimes, if students from underprivileged communities are unable to visit a college campus while in middle-school or high-school, even if the student reaches higher education, students are susceptible to dropping-out. In fact, according to this study, during the first year of college, economically disadvantaged students often experience a “culture shock”   Students describe culture shock as feeling different and unable to connect with people or the college environment. As a result, disadvantaged students are more likely to drop-out and less likely to take advantage of college resources or participate in college life.
Culture shock’s driving force, is the vast difference in cultural norms on a college campus compared with the community a disadvantaged college student is from. Specifically, students from segregated neighborhoods with crime, joblessness, and poverty are susceptible to culture shock.

However, research also shows that visiting a college campus can help students adjust to the environment by learning critical cultural norms. Unlike students from privileged communities, economically disadvantaged students are often unable to visit a college campus. This explains that to expand access to young people growing up in economically disadvantaged communities, students must be physically brought to the college campus to adjust to the unique cultural norms.
Yet such intervention must do more than bring the students to a college campus. Critically, the program must be stable and consistent  In other words, the volunteers must show up regularly and on time. Furthermore, everyone involved must buy in to the program’s ideals. Programs must also cultivate partnerships from year to year.   This is particularly important in the present climate where funding cuts cast uncertainty on even the most effective programs.  Without proper funding, a program will fail regardless of the many dedicated volunteers.
Another consideration must be the targeted grade level (or age) for the intervention. According to research, the proper age to begin bringing students to campus is fifth grade, at the earliest, and seventh grade, at the latest. Interventions beginning in high-school have generally proven less effective. However, offering high-school courses in a university setting, as a supplement to the college visits program, has led to positive results.

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