Higher Education Should Serve Entire Families, Not Just Students

Higher education has a lot of problems right now. It’s also never had more opportunities. The biggest and boldest among them is the opportunity to expand higher education’s mission from being an exclusive and specialized bastion for degree conferrals to a widely inclusive and holistic educational community. What would happen if ‘college’ meant serving entire families and communities instead of individual students? What if the unit of analysis and the focus of service shifted from degree-seeking students to including their families and communities in various ways? What if you could have both exclusivity and inclusiveness in the same strategy by broadening our definitions of ‘education’ and ‘students?’ This is the kind of provocative thinking higher education desperately needs at this point in time.   

A college degree is the ticket to social mobility. That’s the narrative we have

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COVID-19 laid bare the inequities in Higher Education. Now, we risk losing an entire generation

When COVID-19 peaked in the Northeast, my home state of New Jersey moved into lockdown, including remote instruction for the state college and university systems. This educational shift, the virus’s disproportionate impact on Black and brown communities, and economic dislocation have had enormous impacts on the aspirations of students from low-income families who seek the transformational power of higher education.

For many families living below the poverty line in New Jersey and across the country, public universities and community colleges offer opportunity: to be the first in the family to receive a college education and to take a step up the ladder of social mobility. Today, one-fifth of college students nationally come from low-income backgrounds, and more than half are first-generation students — many of whom rely on public education institutions to transform their lives and the lives of their families. Even as economic mobility has decreased in the

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