Opinion: How academia can support low-income students—without singling us out

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“I’ve continued to talk about my experiences when they seem relevant. I still feel vulnerable opening up in classes where the majority of students comfortably afford college, but it has been incredibly rewarding. Many students have now shared their financial struggles with me. This past semester, for example, one of my most diligent students confided that he worked long hours in the university’s cafeteria and needed to do the bulk of his coursework late into the night. So, when he occasionally fell asleep in class, I knew it reflected anything but lack of interest, commitment, or ability. All low-income students should have mentors who can help them cope with the many expenses associated with college and make them feel welcome. And I hope that more academics can be like my calculus professor, who with his simple gesture made such a big difference for me.”

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