NPR: Why Many Smart, Low-Income Students Don’t Apply To Elite Schools

Here, and an excerpt:

Right now, high school seniors across the country are trying hard not to think about what is — or isn’t — coming in the mail.

They’re anxiously awaiting acceptance letters (or the opposite) from their top-choice colleges and universities. But this story isn’t about them. It’s about a big group of seniors who could get into great schools but don’t apply: high-achieving students from low-income families who live outside of America’s big cities.

These students often wind up in community college or mediocre four-year schools. It’s a phenomenon known in education circles as “undermatching.”

Why does it happen?

Reason No. 1: Location, Location, Location

Kristen Hannah Perez is an 18-year-old senior at Celina High School in Celina, Texas. When she’s not studying for her AP classes, practicing the euphonium (she made all-state band) or running bingo at the local nursing home, she’s working at the only McDonald’s in town.

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