Special report: Meet a Newark student beginning his uphill climb to a college degree

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

Yamin Reddick graduated from Newark’s Central High School this spring determined to earn a college degree and help uplift the city he loves.

“If you know what you want in life, if you have a mission, you attack it while you can,” he said. “You do it now — don’t wait until later.”

But for Reddick and many of his classmates, the journey to college completion is an uphill climb. Among graduates of Newark’s traditional, non-selective high schools, only 16% of those who immediately enroll in college earn bachelor’s degrees six years later. Across all of Newark, only 44% of students who head straight to four-year colleges cross the finish line within six years, according to researchers in the city. (Nationally, 60% do.)

Today, we’re launching a new series, Ready or Not, that examines what those statistics look and feel like for Reddick and students like him — accomplished, driven young adults facing long odds in their quest for a college degree.

Patrick Wall will be chronicling Reddick’s efforts to succeed at Rutgers University-Newark, which has won accolades for its support for low-income students. The first installment of his story, out today, covers Reddick’s roller coaster ride from the day he graduated from Central in June until the beginning of Rutgers’ fall semester. 

Reddick has generously opened up his life this year so we can learn from his experiences. We hope you’ll follow along on his journey.

Read the story here.

And don’t miss our first Ready or Not installment from Detroit, where we’re telling the stories of four recent graduates trying to make their way at three Michigan universities. 

Learn more about what we know about college enrollment and completion here. And be on the lookout as we launch an ongoing conversation with our readers about this important topic. Want to weigh in now? Email Patrick.