Incubated through the Aspen Institute and its Paraha-Aspen Education Fellows program, May 30 is the start of a new effort, Proof Point Day. As explained by the Aspen Institute, Proof Point Day is intended to start a national conversation on first-generation college students and the challenges they face in achieving that sought-after college diploma.
This is an important conversation for all of us to participate in. While we regularly talk about the importance of postsecondary education or the need to return the United States to glory as the country with the highest percentage of college graduates, we can often sell short those factors that are so important to determining college success, particularly among first-generation goers. We can often lose sight of the motivations, supports and encouragement necessary to both get first-generation college students into postsecondary opportunities and then to help them ultimately earn their degrees. We can overlook that it all starts with making sure high school students recognize they are college material, regardless of their socioeconomic or educational backgrounds.
Across the nation, individuals and organizations are sharing stories of first-generation college goers on social media, using the hashtag #ProofPointDay. I’ve written about the most important first-generation college goer on the Eduflack blog here. As we reflect on helping first-generation college goers earn their college degrees, it is also valuable to look at the work being led by groups such as the Arizona College Scholarship Foundation. As #ProofPointDay talks about the issue, groups like the Foundation and many others like it are acting, day in and day out, to help these students get to college while providing them the financial and mentoring supports to be the first in their families to earn a college degree.
The true proof is found in those groups and individuals who are preparing kids for college, helping them earn admission, making it financially possible and helping them through all the twists and turns one encounters from freshman orientation to donning the cap and gown.