By Derrick Blakley

(CBS) – Some of the nation’s best students aren’t applying to the nation’s best colleges, according to the conclusion of a new survey.

They’re low-income students, often from the inner city, and they’re missing out on their best chance at professional success. CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley explains why.

At Hales Franciscan High School, Jeremiah Douchee is a big man on campus – a football star on the field and class valedictorian. He’s heading from the inner city to the Ivy League, at Dartmouth.

“I didn’t think it was as attainable as it really was. It seemed like it was just beyond impossible,” he says.

It wasn’t impossible, but often, such an option is not even considered by disadvantaged students.

“A lot of times, it’s a lack of exposure, finances, and just the unknown,” Hales Franciscan principal Erica Brownfield says.

A new study shows how rare Jeremiah is. Only 34 per cent of low-income, high-achieving seniors attended the most selective colleges. But among high-income families, it was 78 percent.

“You look at the sticker price and you see $60,000 and your family may or may not make that in a year,” says Kim Ransom, who directs a successful University of Chicago program that prepares high school students for elite colleges.

Jeremiah hopes he can set an example.

“I’m hoping that me going to this school opens the eyes to some of the other kids in Chicago, especially at my school, that you can do to these schools and graduate,” he says.

Jeremiah believes elite colleges have to do a better job of recruiting inner-city students, but students also must aim higher. One upcoming resource: the Black Star Project, which mentors students,  is sponsoring a college fair featuring almost 50 top schools.

That’s scheduled for April 6.

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