New York City

I’ll Be a ‘Pushy Mom’ Too, If It Means More Kids Make It to College

Pushy Moms. They’ve always been hard to like but now I love them and want to be one someday. Pushy Moms is the name of a small group of women in New York City recently profiled by Barbara Kantrowitz for WNYC/The Hechinger Report, who are using their firsthand experience in navigating the college admissions process with their own children to help students at LaGuardia Community College transfer to four-year colleges. It’s really pretty perfect. While many highly-educated professional women take charge of the college admissions process for their own children, many community college students have no one to help them. They are often first-generation college students and in some cases, their parents don’t even live in the United States, let alone have experience or expertise with the college transfer process. The Pushy Moms meet with these students, hold them accountable for strong essays and deadlines, and teach them words like “safety” and “reach” that are common vernacular in American high schools and homes but actually quite foreign to many community college students. Pushy Moms is a result of out-of-the-box thinking by Karen Dubinsky, LaGuardia’s chief engagement officer and a marketing consultant. After attending a benefit at LaGuardia and being so impressed by the students’ passion and gratitude for the school, she was moved to volunteer and, within a year, was working for the college full time. It occurred to Dubinski that her own friends knew very little about community college but everything about applying to four-year colleges. And she also knew they had some free time. The backdrop for the Pushy Moms is the persistent and depressing disparity between how many community college students believe they’ll graduate from a four-year college and how many actually do. As the Hechinger piece points out:
According to a recent report from Teachers College, Columbia University, 80 percent of entering community college students say they plan to earn a bachelor’s degree, but only about a quarter actually make the transfer and only 17 percent actually go on to get that degree.
Pushy Moms is a unique example of women and moms leaning in on behalf of children who aren’t their own. This has been a clarion call for many of us in the education space who are consistently frustrated that parents whose kids have the privilege to be educated well don’t seem willing or interested to engage on behalf of children and families for whom quality education has been nearly impossible to access. Pushy Moms like these Manhattan mothers exist in every city and there’s no reason why Dubinski’s idea can’t be replicated all over the country. It’s the perfect example of the philanthropy of time and expertise rather than money. And it’s working. Not only are these LaGuardia students successfully transferring to four-year colleges, but they are building a relationship with a mentor who understands their education goals and believes in their potential to achieve them. Thank you, Pushy Moms. I can’t wait to be just like you.
Erika Sanzi
Erika Sanzi is a mother of three sons and taught in public schools in Massachusetts, California and Rhode Island. She has served on her local school board in Cumberland, Rhode Island, advocated for fair school funding at the state level, and worked on campaigns of candidates she considers to be champions for kids and true supporters of great schools. She is currently a Fordham senior visiting ...

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