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Bringing the Dream of an Elite College to Rural Students

Most low-income students rely on their parents for college advice, and many of them end up going to colleges that are less rigorous than they can handle, the research shows. Some organizations places recent graduates in public high schools for two-year stints as full-time college advisers, where they make up for a widespread scarcity of college counselors and bring their own recent experience to bear on the college application process.

Critics say that these efforts are too focused on transforming the lives of the most brilliant tier of low-income students. What about the students who are merely competent? Others say that steering all the smart teenagers to a few elite colleges may be good for those particular students, but may worsen the social and economic stratification of American society — there will be no more small-town philosopher-car mechanics.