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‘I Can Take A Failing Grade,’ But Not Homelessness: The Hard Choices Some Detroit Students Make For College Success

It was a heavy moment during a panel discussion about college success when Myla Smith described the financial challenges that led to some impossible choices.

During her freshman year at Michigan State University, Smith said, the struggles she and other students from low-income backgrounds faced left them working as many hours as they could to bring in cash they needed to live. Financial aid wasn’t enough.

“Sometimes work was more important than class,” said Smith, a graduate of Osborn High School in Detroit who now works as a college advisor at a high school in Romulus. “Because, I can take a failing grade, but I can’t take being homeless. Do you guys understand?”

The discussion came during an event put on Friday by the Detroit College Access Network, an organization that coordinates efforts to ensure all students in the city have the opportunity to attend college.