Good comment over at Michael Goldstein's blog:
I get this – but I will offer, as a first generation college student, that 1. every major can be hard if your aim is too excel and that 2. perhaps being supported in setting your own goals and identifying your own strengths is also critical to your success, even if you are low-income or minority.
Put more personally, I entered college young, without much of a clue about how it worked – it wasn’t a goal for my family – and with chronic health problems as well. My brother entered older, healthier, and with considerably more support from my family. I studied something I loved and was committed to mastering; he studied what he thought would help him earn more money. I have a degree now, and he dropped out and returned to the $11 an hour job that he enjoys.
I think you need to respect that kids have their own passions, skills and strengths and teach them to be people who work hard for the things they want – not bribe them with “golden tickets” ie, if you just study what I tell you to, you’ll be rich. College is hard, especially when it’s not part of your family’s experience and you don’t have connections. For me, what allowed me to do well is that I loved what I was learning and worked harder than everyone else because of it. I can’t say I would have done that if someone else had told me what to study and the things I loved and was good at, better than other people, were dismissed as “easy.”