By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – While high school graduates have increased, dropout rates in urban areas are high and kids in low-income neighborhoods believe college to be unattainable. There are few role models in their families and communities.

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However, Education Week reports on a new initiative being piloted with funds from the Federal Department of Education providing funding to pair college students as mentors for high school seniors, to improve chances of completing college, particularly for disadvantaged and first generation students.

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College retention rates have remained constant for many years, with a high percentage of students leaving between year one and two. Implicit in this new plan will be finding faster and more flexible ways to degree completion.

To motivate college students to be mentors, work-study funds will be available and the government is seeking higher ed institutions now to participate.

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College-readiness, career counseling, student aid and financial literacy will be the focus of the programs.