Early exposure to college–as early as elementary school–to create a college-going mindset was also discussed. But the culture of college-going needs to be matched with academic preparation, and populations of color are typically underserved at their local public schools. Billy said, however, that data can be a powerful tool for effecting change. “When high school teachers saw the data–that their graduates were failing college courses and that remediation was keeping them from graduating from college–they were convinced of the need to work together with college faculty to better prepare their students,â€ she said.
Other ways to help with retention included noting what’s working at San Diego Community College, where assessments are administered up front, and then a plan is developed to help students make incremental gains. Using question-driven curricula, case-based education provided in a community-based class, and making use of self-directed research, students are engaged academically.
Some panelists noted that because support is front-loaded, they are seeing more students dropping out in their junior year, so consistent, sustained support may be necessary to retain vulnerable students. Technology could possibly be pressed into the service of supporting students or of helping them get acclimated. Quillen noted that technology can extend the reach of small colleges like Davidson, and described a personalized six-week virtual mentoring course that it offers to new students.
When asked whose responsibility it is to make college attainable–is it the parents’? K-12 teachers’? college faculty’s?–the panelists agreed that the question of responsibility is one each of us must ask ourselves: What can I do to make equitable education real in a country that wants to be a democracy.
For more information about the National Higher Education Summit, go here.