Improving College Access and Success

Improving College Access and Success

College Access

In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, two higher education advocates describe their suggestions for making college access–the application and admissions processes–simpler and more navigable, especially for underrepresented students.

As the mother of two children who’ve attended college (one graduated; one is a full-time student), I didn’t find the process particularly daunting.

But I didn’t like the financial aid bait and switch: My daughter’s freshman year aid package was a lot more generous than that of her subsequent years.

I also didn’t like not knowing the final numbers until after we’d already committed, so I’m all for greater transparency.

For more about improving the process, here’s an excerpt.

Here are three additional ways to make the process easier for students:

  1. Measure What Matters: Today, we know how many Pell Grant recipients a university is serving, but the graduation rates for Pell recipients are not public – an issue that efforts like the University Innovation Alliance are working to address. While a high overall college graduation rate can indicate quality, it can also signal that a school is refusing to take a chance on students who are capable of succeeding in college but who might need extra support to achieve their education goals. Making outcomes for low-income Pell recipients public helps show prospective students how well a university is doing in serving and graduating students like them. To meaningfully inform students and reward schools who are doing the right thing, we should shine a spotlight on colleges that are helping low-income and other at-risk students graduate.
  2. Leverage Existing Policies: Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia already have policies in place mandating the use of Individualized Learning Plans (ILPs) to support college and career exploration, providing parents, teachers and counselors with a more holistic picture of students. Counselors across thousands of schools and districts are working with students to create e-portfolios through their ILPs. Why not leverage this existing work and the insights of counselors and school leaders to assess students’ readiness for college rather than asking students to create a completely separate portfolio for their college applications?
  3. Bridge K-12 and Higher Ed: School counselors, principals and superintendents are collaborating with higher education to ensure that their students are prepared for success in college and beyond, and K-12 practitioners are actively working with college admission offices to provide a more holistic view of prospective students of all backgrounds.

Read more at the Washington Post.