Who Do You Get Advice From?


It's great to have a bunch of people to rely on when you need advice. And it would seem that a lot of us count on the people close to us to offer their counsel before we jump into big decisions.

Nothing wrong with that, except that for kids who come from low-income households or families with few college graduates, advice about where to go to college or what careers pay well leaves something to be desired - particularly since these smart kids often can qualify to get into great schools - if only they knew the details.

How we get information about college and career choices matters a lot. Research by Stanford’s Caroline Hoxby and Harvard’s Christopher Avery has shown that low-income, high-achieving high school students often do not apply to selective colleges in part because they are less likely to interact with high-achieving peers and teachers who have been exposed to selective colleges. They have the scores to get into selective schools. They just don’t have the same networks as their higher-income peers.

Sucks, right? Fortunately, there are some good ideas about how to get these kids exposure to available options.

Our current education and workforce training institutions mostly rely on formal sources of career advice such as guidance counselors, one-stop centers and websites to disseminate career advice to aspiring teen and adult college students. Rather than hoping students ask the right guidance counselor the right questions, or visit a one-stop career center or a website, why not send them, their families and their teachers, personalized information telling them where students in their city with scores like theirs have been admitted to college? And why not inform people directly, in real time, about which jobs requiring which level of education are paying what? The technology exists to do this. It’s now a matter of creatively using it for the benefit of everyone, but most of all, for those who are disadvantaged by an information deficit in their informal networks. ...

Text messaging is one way, if the kids have phones.

What other ways can you think of to use social capital to reach students and get them information they're not getting?