An Ivy Stepladder

Two-year colleges, the blue collars of academia, have a new mission: giving a boost to top scholars

Roy Guzman found himself in an educational no-man's-land. A bright, industrious teen who came to Miami from Honduras nine years ago, he scored well enough on his SAT that he was being recruited by Stanford University. But despite the tuition aid he could have received, Guzman felt that he and his family weren't ready for the heavy financial burden of four years at a prestigious college. And despite his good grades, Guzman was worried that he wasn't ready academically either.

But just as he was about to delay college and join the Marines, Guzman heard that Miami Dade College, one of...

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