Getting into college opens the door to more knowledge and skills, of course, but also better jobs and other advantages, including a longer, healthier life.
But access to college isn’t universal or equitable. Approximately 40% of all American adults — and about 30 percent of those aged 18-24 — haven’t taken a single college course.
Then there’s the question of what kinds of colleges students in different demographic and socioeconomic groups have access to. When low-income students do attend college, they’re more likely to go to less selective and less well-funded institutions. Less selective institutions tend to meet fewer of students’ financial needs, offer less counseling and support, and have higher dropout rates.
Investigations into such inequities, such as admissions preferences given to wealthy students and “legacies,” have drawn a great deal of attention (and important journalism prizes).
The topic of college access offers plenty of territory for journalists to explore, including the quality of students’ K-12 courses; admissions tests such as the ACT and SAT; the process of completing applications; and the challenge of paying tuition and other expenses. (Navigating the notoriously complicated and underfunded financial aid system is an entirely separate genre of coverage.)
The modules below provide resources to help reporters cover college access, including:
- A glossary of terms commonly used in the college admissions process
- Data sources, key experts and leading organizations in the college access world
- A curated collection of recent stories on college access