The aspirations-expectations gap is 36 percentage points among low-income children: 90% aspire to attend college, while only 54% see it as a realistic possibility in their lives (Elliot, 2008). Conversely, among wealthier children, the aspirations-expectations gap is only 14 percentage points. Putnam attributes this aspirations-expectations gap to a lack of adults with high educational attainment who can help navigate educational opportunities.
DREAM utilizes college campuses as its primary programming location, with committed and trained college students providing both one-on-one and team mentoring. The aim is to provide mentors that have high educational attainment and can help increase educational aspirations and expectations. The White House Report on the opportunity gap encourages promoting a strong college-going culture early in order to increase the pipeline of low-income children expecting to attend.
According to Scholastic, spending time on a college campus can greatly increase college-aspirations and can also make college seem achievable. When a typical DREAM youth is ready to transition from high school to college, she will have spent over 10 years on a college campus and have had 3-4 college student mentors.
DREAM AmeriCorps members help strengthen DREAM’s curriculum of teen-centered opportunities, focused on college enrollment and success, including DREAM’s “futures” retreats where teens set goals with their college mentors that put them on a pathway for college, college visits, and direct support for college application writing and submission.
College Road Trip
College Road Trip is a life changing annual trip that allows for an energetic and inspiring group of teens to explore multiple colleges and typically partake in activities such as campus tours, meeting with admissions directors and current students, tasting dining hall food, and learning specifics of the application process and financial aid options. Teens walk away with a greater understanding of how to achieve their college dreams!