Your weekend must-reads: Two gripping stories about going to college

We’ve got some weekend reading for you: two stories that will make you think hard about a pressing issue facing American students and their schools.

Nationally, 60% of students who begin college right after high school graduate within six years. But that rate is lower for black students, Hispanic students, and low-income students — even though they stand to gain the most from earning a degree.

Two Chalkbeat reporters are bringing those statistics to life in a new series that tells the stories of driven young adults facing especially long odds in their quest to complete college. You don’t want to miss their first pieces.

A Newark student dreams of completing college. But first he must survive summer ‘boot camp.’

Yamin Reddick thought he was ready. But a summer program at his dream college — Rutgers University-Newark, which has drawn attention for its success in supporting low-income students — took him on an emotional roller coaster that left everything in doubt.

“I tell them: I can’t afford for them to fail,” said Sherri-Ann Butterfield, Rutgers-Newark’s executive vice chancellor. “As a country I can’t, as an institution, as a city. Newark needs you. Everywhere needs you.”

‘I can do it’: How four Detroit students hope to make it through the formidable first year of college

Meet four students at three universities — including a valedictorian and a football star — who will have to navigate patchy academic preparation, culture shock, and even their own shaken confidence if they are to defy statistics and earn a degree.

“I’m at school to handle my business,” said Kashia Perkins, a first-year at Michigan State University. “I just need to go in with the mindset that I can do it. And I will.”

The stories are the first in a series, Ready or Not, that will chronicle the college transition for students in Detroit and Newark, and explain why what happens there matters for us all. Please share them, let us know what you think, and have a great weekend!