Giving Compass’ Take:
• Liz Willen discusses the documentaries “Personal Statement” and “Unlikely,” which shed light on the difficulties for students going through the college admissions process.
• The author highlights a persistent problem in schools: the lack of guidance counselors for students, particularly seniors trying to figure out the next steps after high school. How can funders work to address these gaps?
• Read about the college counseling equity gap.
The challenging admissions journeys these three public high school seniors from Brooklyn face provide a dramatic story line for “Personal Statement,” a stunning new documentary by Juliane Dressner and Eddie Martinez, available at various times on PBS stations and being shown at film festivals throughout the country.
Their stories starkly illustrate the fragile support system that low-income students in public schools with few resources encounter, every step of the way, as they navigate getting into college and paying for it.
Football star Enoch, activist Christine and immigrant Karoline are captivating; you can’t help rooting for them. Yet as all three tackle family problems, academic demands and their own college dreams, they are simultaneously working to help other students try to get into college as well.
The roadblocks they face are exacerbated by a problem we’ve long been concerned about at The Hechinger Report: the severe lack of guidance counselors at the public schools where students most need help and support for their higher education quests.
And the obstacles don’t stop after high school. “Unlikely,” another new documentary related to college attainment, stems from the experience of Jaye Fenderson, a former admissions officer at Columbia University who became concerned by what she saw as the exclusionary nature of her Ivy League alma mater.
“Unlikely” details the hardships of five nontraditional students as they push for a second chance at a college degree. In the meantime, they work at warehouses, motels and Starbucks. They struggle with staggering debt and daycare costs. Once again, you are taken in by the students and their personal stories and can’t help rooting for them.
Read the full article about documentaries about the college admission process by Liz Willen at The Hechinger Report.
Poverty is a complex topic, and others found these selections from the Impact Giving archive from Giving Compass to be good resources.
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If you are looking for opportunities to take action and give money to Higher Education, here are some Giving Funds, Charitable Organizations and Projects aggregated by Giving Compass where you can take immediate action.