Boosting the College Application Rate for Poor Students | Voice of San Diego

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Boosting the College Application Rate for Poor Students

At least one charter school has found a way to help low-income students apply to college. San Diego Unified should adopt the program throughout the district.


I recently wrote about how San Diego Unified and its charters should take advantage of charters’ best programs and implement them throughout the district.

The New York Times points out an important reason why successful charters and districts need to work together: low-income students’ low college application rates.

Most low-income students who have top test scores and grades do not even apply to the nation’s best colleges, according to a new analysis of every high school student who took the SAT in a recent year.

The best colleges in the country can’t attract talented low-income students to their schools because these students aren’t applying in the first place.

Considering that 60 percent of San Diego Unified students live in families under the poverty line, addressing this problem should be a priority.

Low-income students’ application rates aren’t low everywhere in San Diego, however. Some schools, including The Preuss School, UCSD (Disclosure: I am a teacher there), have figured out how to achieve a 100 percent college application rate for low-income students, dwarfing the national average for that bloc, which is 8 percent.

When charter schools find a way to do something well, the district should find a way to share the program with all its students.

If San Diego Unified has a problem with its top low-income students not applying to top-tier colleges, they have a tremendous resource for addressing this problem in the form of their successful charter schools. The district and these schools should find a way to collaborate and adapt charter school college advising programs to the district at large.

Oscar Ramos is a contributor to Voice of San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @OscarRamosSD or email

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