Irene Anderson OBSTACLES TO COMING TO COLLEGE- Everyone knows that getting a college education is a sure means of improving and transforming one's standard of living because of the increased chances of getting a better paying job and the increase in self-esteem. So why don't more people who live in poverty seek to acquire a college education, is a question only the individuals can answer. However, those who choose this route, soon realize that there are certain roadblocks that they have to deal with before and while in college. Sometimes these obstacles will cause people to give up their dreams of going to college or to drop out.

Obstacles to coming to college vary from person to person and depend on their specific situations. These obstacles range from financial to welfare reforms, lack of family and social support and academic requirements and test performance anxieties to name a few. Money is the most significant obstacle for people contemplating higher education. When I decided to enroll in college, it did not take long for my husband and me to realize that finances or the lack of it was going to be a major problem.

We were not poor enough to qualify for financial aid and because my husband had already acquired some student loans, which we are still trying to pay off, we were not eager to get any more loans. My options were to give it up or take one class each semester because that was the only way we were able to pay for my classes. The cost of tuition, books and miscellaneous items can quickly add up and continues to rise steadily and few can afford to pay the total cost from their pockets. In some situations, money affects men and women differently. Women are significantly more likely to than men to say that credit card debt is a barrier to going to college and that college is simply too expensive for them.

Lack of information about money has also lessened the opportunities of many people who face financial difficulties the chance of returning to school. Many men and women are not aware of financial aid information that is available to them, so they choose not to investigate and miss many resources of support. Yet some tend to overestimate the cost of a college education, which then scares them from pursuing this dream. Another important obstacle to attending college for some people is proving to be welfare participation.

For instance, Julie, a divorced mother of a two-year-old son is on welfare, works 25 hour a week, carries a full time school load and tries to find time for her son. She was then notified by her caseworker that federal work requirements had increased from 25 to 30 hours per week. When the pressure of her situation became too much to bear, Julie opted to drop out of college because otherwise, she would have lost the welfare assistance that she desperately needed to support her son and herself. The 'welfare to work' 1996 Personal Responsibility and work Opportunity and Reconciliation Act, encourages rapid entry into the work force. Many needy and talented women are being driven away from higher education because post secondary education does not count as work. According to M Gi tell, director of Howard Samuels State Management and Policy Center at the City University of New York, there has been an enrollment decline nationally of between 10 and 60 percent among the welfare recipient student population.

This can only be blamed on escalating and restrictive work requirements. In addition, the lack of family and social support is another obstacle that many college prospects face. Cathy is a friend of mine who decided to enroll at Ivy Tech at the same time that I did. When she discussed her decision with her husband, he asked her how she planned to balance her responsibilities as a wife and mother with her schoolwork. Thinking that he would come around once he realized that she was serous about school, she registered for a few courses and informed him of her timetable.

To her dismay, he did not show up to take care of their one-year-old son when she had to go to school. Because she was a stay at home mom and cold not afford childcare, she had to abandon that project. There are many women like Cathy who because of the lack of family support cannot attend college. The lack of support can manifest in many different forms. Students whose parents did not attend college lack knowledge of the admissions and financial aid processes and cannot understand the sacrifices that going to college entails. For these reasons, they cannot help prepare their children who may have plans of attending college or already in college.

Finally, academic requirements and test performance anxieties impedes many from attending college. For instance, Tamara, an acquaintance asked me what I was going to school for. When I told her, she said 'I have always wanted to be a nurse'. I asked her what was stopping her from becoming one; she replied that she is scared of taking those college entrance tests such as the SAT. 'Nervousness about the academic requirements for college' is a major source for anxiety and is scaring some from even considering college. The possibilities of having to prepare essays, taking tests, performing problems and the possibilities of receiving low scores are serious anxiety factors.

The lack of finances, welfare reforms, lack of support and anxieties are just some of the obstacles that people face when the contemplate college. Some face single obstacles and others have to deal with a combination of problems. Solving the problems of college assess thus requires a vast array of strategies. The federal and local governments must increase student aid and combine other strategies to resolve the non-monetary barriers that students face. For instance, they can increase the availability of college awareness information to high school students, increase the availability of support services (counseling, mentoring and tutoring) to college and high school students and lessen restrictions on the participation in post secondary education by welfare recipients. Not every one is college material but there are certainly many talented people who could benefit from a college education.