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4 Ways You Can Help a Marginalised Student Prepare for College

One disadvantage that students from marginalised communities may face in attending college is in lacking access to the conventions of academic life and how to research and apply for school and financial aid. This information, which might seem obvious to a student from a family in which both parents have attended college, can seem difficult to access and understand when you are the first in your family to seek higher education. Whether you are a mentor, a family friend or work with young people in another capacity, each of the different suggestions below are ways you can help make this dream more accessible to them.

Believe in Them

This may sound frustratingly vague, but it really isn’t. Some students may not have ever considered college as a possibility or might long to attend but simply assume that it isn’t in the cards for them. By voicing your encouragement and support, you can help turn something that might be a secretly nurtured dream into a reality. When you are sending a disabled child to college, part of believing in them includes offering practical suggestions and help for the obstacles they may face, some of which are discussed below.

Cosign on Their Loans

This is a big step, and it’s not right for everyone or every relationship. However, it can make a big difference for a student who may not be able to get approved for a loan any other way. It’s important that you fully understand what you are getting into when you agree to be a cosigner, so before you commit, you can review a guide explaining the pros and cons. For some students, this can make the difference that allows them to go college.

Help Understanding Other Funding Sources

Many students will use multiple funding sources to pay for college, so whether or not you are able to assist them by cosigning on a loan, you can help them locate and apply for financial aid, scholarships, and grants. This might include helping them fill out a FAFSA form or search online for scholarships they are eligible for. You could also help them prepare scholarship applications, including writing a statement of purpose and understanding how to ask teachers and others to write recommendations.

Help with Choosing and Applying to School

The process of researching schools and applying for them in the first place can be overwhelming even for students who have a lot of support. For those lacking in this support, it can feel like another insurmountable obstacle. You can make a big difference by assisting them in this process, helping them identify the schools that have a strong reputation in the field they want to study and creating a plan for applying that includes deadlines. If possible, you might be able to accompany them on campus visits or at least on learning more about campus culture and considering such issues as where the school is located and how that might impact their experience. In addition, talking to them about the expectations professors will have and discussing how to get the most out of their relationships with professors may be helpful.

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