CC and lower income student

My son is very excited to be admitted to CC and he received a need-based offer that makes CC equally affordable to our state flagship school. He loves just about everything about the school: the Block plan, the small classes, the close-knit community, the stunning location, etc. However, I’m a bit concerned about how he might fit in at CC socioeconomically. I know the majority of students at CC come from some of the wealthiest families in the nation. I guess my concern is that our finances and his need to work part-time might preclude his being able to fully participate in student life, e.g., may be unable to afford some of the extracurricular and Block break activities. I know CC has specific programs to assist lower income students through Questbridge and similar programs, but unfortunately he wasn’t accepted into Questbridge (I suspect because we earned just barely above their income cut-off) Anyone have experience with how a lower-middle class student might fit in at CC or able to comment on any supports? For example, I looked into the Bridge program (which sounds wonderful!) but apparently he doesn’t qualify since he isn’t first gen or URM. Any thoughts, ideas, experiences?

My only advice is you (or him) do you. Something I told both my kids. He will find his peers. Don’t try to change because some people have money. There will always be someone with more or less money. Someone shorter and taller. Someone prettier etc etc. Have him be himself and he should be fine. Both my kids choose to work during college. Employers actually love seeing this btw! Congratulations and good luck to your son.

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My D went to a peer school of CC with similar demographics. She and most of her friends were generally from financially stable (if not all “rich”) families, but all of her friends had campus jobs at various times. D worked all but her freshman year. She was very tight fisted with her money and bought the cheapest thing on the menu when going out. They might have thought she didn’t have as much money as some other kids, but that wasn’t the point. Kids didn’t seem to care.

My point here is that your child will find the people he wants to hang out with. That could be the kids wearing Canada Goose, or it could be the kids wearing Land’s End. It’s very unlikely he is going to be judged by his money or lack of. There will be enough stuff happening on campus to make it some what of a non-issue.

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His having less money than his peers is going to be true at any college in the nation. Some go to more concerts, have cars to drive, spring break trips to Cabo or Paris or California, and don’t have to work (but some do work anyway for the experience).

My friends had more money than me 40+ years ago and we’re all still friends 40 years later (and they still have more money than me). I worked in the school library typing request forms, even over spring break while my friends were sunning and skiing or seeing California. Still had fun while in college.

Good advice above to have your son not try to keep up with the Joneses. He will find fun things to do while in his own lane. Many schools have free things to do on campus, include sports tickets on the student ID, have free concerts, pizza parties,etc. He’ll be fine.

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My son is a sophomore at CC. His typical block break is going hiking and camping or outdoor climbing with a group of friends. This does not cost a ton of money…you just need to find a friend with a car. :slight_smile: You can borrow equipment from the Outdoor Center (although probably for a fee). He has gone skiing a few times (that’s definitely pricier). The school also runs its own trips, and if you contact CC Outdoor Education, they can give you an idea of price, I’m sure. My son does not dress fancy, and is a penny pincher…sometimes, he gets food from places like Chipotle or local diners or taco shops but mostly eats on campus using his meal plan. I know a handful of kids there or who recently graduated, and they are all very down to earth. The block plan can be academically very intense. My son wants to major in physics. I know he finds that class takes up a tremendous amount of time during math and physics blocks. I know he wouldn’t be able to work part-time very easily during those blocks. He does manage to work out, climb, and still socialize (he takes off Friday evenings and Saturdays from work religiously except maybe before finals), but a consistent job would be hard for him. Does this help? I’m sure others have different experiences.

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I just asked my son this question as he is sitting next door in his bedroom. He said he does have friends who are lower income and have jobs. He agreed that working and doing school would be hard for him, and he also said that he does have friends, who when planning activities, don’t think about the cost involved (until my son or someone reminds them). His final word on the issue, “yes, you might experience some of these issues, but I wouldn’t let that discourage him from coming to CC.” My son loves the place!

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Thanks for all the replies. You make good points that he would likely be one of the lower income students at any LAC, so that’s just something he will have to get used to either way.
PJNYmom- thank you for replying and please tell your son we appreciate his taking the time to chime in as a current CC student! CC sounds like an amazing school and I am so excited my son has the opportunity to attend there for a similar net price as our state flagship university! We are hoping to try to get out to visit in March or April, maybe once they announce the visit dates for accepted students (COVID permitting, of course…)

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This NYTimes database may be helpful:

It shows that CC is indeed at the top of income disparity among US colleges and universities (nearly 1/4 from the top 1%), but also that over 10% of the student body is from the bottom 60% of US families by income. This is from 2017, of course, so income gaps everywhere have only grown.

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You are welcome! Where do you live? We are in Chicago. If you do visit, I am happy to ask my son if he and/or his friends would be willing to make themselves available as a contact for questions. It’s been a truly great experience thus far for my son, even with all of the COVID issues. He stayed at school last summer and did research for a professor and worked for an HOA group. I heard him on a call the other day with his professor as they are preparing to present this month.

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Thank you so much for the offer. We are in GA. So happy to hear that your son is thriving at CC! I will reach out once we know more.

The kids I’ve know at CC were quite wealthy, but they are also from Colorado. Colorado residents are charged a different tuition rate at CC, so it is an attractive LAC to attend - they might not be eligible for financial aid at another LAC because they are from higher income families, but the tuition at CC is low for them.

Of course they then have a lot of disposable income, but many of them (those I know) still like to do the free activities Colorado offers - camping, hiking, skiing (with an ICON or EPIC pass), snowshoeing. Lots of free fun.