senior essay smaldonado.pdf

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At the Democratic National Convention on August 27, 2008, Barack Obama said,
“Michelle and I are here only because we were given a chance at an education. I will not settle
for an America where some kids don’t have that chance.”
Obama’s words reflect the widely held understanding of the potential impact that
education can have on an individual’s future. In the United States, it is also widely understood
that the quality of public school education varies widely. As a result, those who are at a cultural
or socioeconomic disadvantage are often denied quality education, decreasing their likelihood of
pursuing higher education.
These systemic inequalities are being noticed and addressed via college pathway
programs, which work to help underserved students get on the college-bound track. The
programs often do not aim to correct the systemic flaws which prevent a majority of students of
limited means from going on to higher education, but they endeavor to put such students on par
with more advantaged students. Such programs try to work to develop the students’ academic
and personal skills, helping them fill their educational gaps and qualify for acceptance into a
college. Popular college pathway programs often work with students before they reach high
school in order to enroll them in a college preparatory school. Some popular college pathway
programs include Prep for Prep, Upward Bound, the Oliver Scholars program, and A Better
Chance, which was studied by Zweigenhaft and Domhoff (1991) in their book, Blacks in the
White Establishment.
A Better Chance (ABC) was founded by 16 independent secondary schools during the
height of the civil rights movement in order to allow minority students to perform better in their
own schools. The ultimate goal was for the students to enroll in private high schools and top
colleges and eventually enter into the middle class. Focusing on the role of race and class in