A high school diploma alone won’t provide the opportunities our students deserve. For our young people to have the chance to make the most of their talents, we need to recognize that more than 60 percent of jobs will require some additional education or training. And while college is not the right option for everyone, we do have an obligation to ensure that no students are denied access to the best higher education for them because they can’t afford it or because they underestimate their potential. Yet that’s what’s happened.
Hundreds of Delaware students, and many more across the country, demonstrate they can succeed in college but don’t ever enroll. So last fall we started an effort to reach out to every college ready senior in the state. We sent them information on the college search process and financial aid. They filled out applications in high school computer labs and their guidance counselors provided one-on-one assistance. Low-income students had their application fees waived. And it’s working. All of them applied and we just announced that 98 percent have taken steps to enroll.
They are students like Sydney Nye, a new graduate of Mt. Pleasant High School. Despite an outstanding academic record, she couldn’t afford the college application fees, much less tuition. With help from her guidance counselors and teachers, and application fee waivers through our state initiative, Sydney applied to Stanford, was accepted, and received a full scholarship. State and national research show us that Sydney’s situation is not unusual. Many students face simple yet overwhelming barriers to getting the education they deserve. By giving them the chance to reach their potential, we’ll keep Delaware moving forward.