12 Dramatic Ways to Improve Higher Educational Equity

1. Role Models

In my experience, providing real-life, living, breathing role models for students supercharges their motivation, focus, and mindset. The role models should simply look like the students and come from a similar background. Living famous people work better than dead famous people, but real people they can meet and talk work the best.

2. Admit on Grades & Portfolio, Not on Standardized Tests

Grades, it has been shown, are a better indicator of long term student success, not standardized tests.

3. Measure How Your College Improves Economic Equity

Most of us in higher ed just assume that getting a college education is better for everyone. Turns out this is not true. Recent research has shown that underprivileged and underrepresented people get far less value out of college than their other populations. Atlantic, MarketWatch. This data actually suggests that college is really just “privilege in privilege out” and asks the question “is traditional college economically worth anything at all?”

4. Income Share Agreements

Income share agreements means students only pay after they get a job. Using ISAs to finance your college begins to align incentives throughout the school to serve students instead of blaming them. It goes a long way to denormalizing failure, and can dramatically improve the outcomes for all populations including underrepresented and underprivileged folks.

5. Drop The Vocation vs. College Distinction

The pretension is so thick you can cut it with a knife when people make the distinction between “vocational” education and “college” education.

6. Find and Remove Weed Out Classes

Weed out classes have been shown to “weed out” underprivileged and underrepresented people.

7. Life Skills—Personal Finance

College teaches very few skills that are valuable to students in their real life.

8. Restorative Practice

If you haven’t implemented top-to-bottom the continuum of restorative practice at your school yet, hop to it. How to

9. Rigor vs. Reality

Much of the educational disenfranchisement that happens throughout the educational system happens due to claims to “rigor”. If a college is not rigorous it must be a bad college. If a course is not rigorous it is a bad course. This is not only false, but it is quite harmful to our society and many people in it.

10. Ask For Student Feedback

Ask for student feedback and publish the results. Take action to fix things that are broken, stop doing things that hurt people, and start doing things that help them.

11. Be Student Centered

To promote equity, your college has to prioritize students above all else.

12. Trauma Informed Practice

Finally provide training to the relevant teachers in trauma informed practice. It is very hard to learn when one has been traumatized by difficult experiences in one’s past. Through trauma informed practices, however, educators can help this population of students to cope and grow through their traumas.



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Educator, Founder, Engineer. Interested in Evidence Based Education and Solving BIG Problems.