Mandy Savitz-Romer, a lecturer at the Graduate School of Education, and Suzanne M. Bouffard, a GSE researcher, published a book called "Ready, Willing, and Able" which addresses the problems concerning college matriculation rates among low-income high school students.
"The current practices are overemphasizing academics and information dissemination without giving careful attention to who young people are," Savitz-Romer said.
She and Bouffard propose a focus on adolescent development when trying to understand the obstacles to students' college attendance.
In an interview with The Crimson, Savitz-Romer presented an example of an ineffective college preparatory strategy. She said that many organizations use statistics on the financial advantage that comes with a college degree to get low-income students to go to college. But those data are, Savitz-Romer said, extrinsic, rather than intrinsic, motivators which studies show don’t work as well.
"The first time they have trouble, they're not going to persist," Savitz-Romer said. "Using those kinds of strategies is really not effective. But the literature on motivation hasn't been tied to college-going."
Savitz-Romer confronted these problems first-hand as a guidance counselor at Brighton High School in Boston.
"[The book] was inspired by both having worked in the schools and seeing kids who, despite all of my work and despite the programs that existed, weren't making progress," she said. "We suggest that if you look at developmental theory...you can learn a little bit about how young people become motivated."