Unlikely – A Film About the Crisis of Low Graduation Rates in US Higher Education

As an extra this week, Mike and Dan spend time with Jaye and Adam Fenderson, the filmmakers behind the new documentary, Unlikely. The film explores the problem of low graduation rates among US college entrants through the stories of 5 students and their families.

We explore why this problem hasn’t yet elevated to the national consciousness despite the fact that the US trails major industrialized nations with a college completion rate of less than 50%. This is made evident through an exploration of the challenges faced by “non-traditional” students balancing their educational needs with other financial, familial, and professional demands in 21st Century life.

Rather than dispiriting, however, the film is ultimately inspirational by spotlighting innovative programs like the iPromise School, the Starbucks/ASU College Achievement Plan, and Year Up, among others, that are opening up access to opportunity for students who our higher ed system might have otherwise forgotten.

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Episode References

Fenderson, A., & Fenderson, J. (2019, March 10). Unlikely [Documentary]. https://www.unlikelyfilm.com/