After spending most of my career working in industry, I am fortunate to have served the past decade in public higher education. What I have seen is both uplifting and heartbreaking. While wealth or intellect all but guarantees some students the opportunity of higher education, too many others face more difficult paths.
Many of my students are the first in their families to earn a college degree, but they amass significant debt to do so. I see student anxiety at the prospect of repaying debt in a less-than-robust economy, an economy not structured to fully utilize the skills they gained earning their degrees.
Too frequently, I see motivated students who are academically unprepared for the rigors of college. Often the reasons have nothing to do with intelligence, but are rooted in disparities in learning experiences and family lives.