For some students, going to college to get a degree after high school is a virtual given. They come from well-to-do families, have few obligations other than maybe a part-time job and have generally performed well in high school. However, other students face significant life challenges that impede their abilities to attend and succeed in college. A positive attitude, resourcefulness and an occasional helping hand help in overcoming common obstacles.


College is expense. Even a two-year degree at a public community college can range from $7,500 to $15,000 in tuition and fees. Quadruple that amount, and you get a typical range for a four-year public university degree. Private school degrees can have a total cost in the six figures. For a person with limited financial assets and modest income, financial burdens are real. Strong academic performance combined with leadership and extra-curricular activities can earn you some scholarship money. Working on- or off-campus jobs while completing school is also common. Additionally, subsidized financial aid is often available to students based on need. This is money you don't have to begin paying back until you are done with school.

Family Responsibilities

Some people put off college because they have children at a young age, or have family members struggling with illness. If you try to return to school later in life, family and parenting responsibilities can pose a burden. This is especially true for single parents who can't share responsibilities with another parent. Moral support from other family members helps. So too does childcare help as needed. Many schools often night and weekend programs and online classes that allow for people who work during the day to complete degrees.

Family History

First-generation students, those that are the first in their family to attend college, face major statistical hurdles. According to Westwood College, first-generation students are four times more likely to drop out of school than second-generation students with higher family incomes. Limited financial resources is a common reason students enter as the first in their families to attempt college. In many cases, their parents couldn't afford school. The lack of family success in college presents a number of problems, including limited family educational awareness and sometimes a lack of support for the student. Finding professors and other students to serve as mentors and working with the academic support center are ways to improve your potential for success.


Physical and mental disabilities pose very literal challenges for a number of students who start college each year. Mobility is a common problem for students with physical disabilities. Students with mental disabilities may struggle with the academic rigor of college. Schools have ramped up resources for people with disabilities in the early 21st century. Colleges typically have disabilities services offices that help students get classroom accommodations. Specific academic and transition programs are also often available for at-risk students and those with learning difficulties coming from high school.

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