The president of Grinnell College argues that need-blind admissions do not necessarily lead to a socioeconomically diverse student body. Elite college admissions are largely shaped to reward students that already have the most advantages, which disadvantages low-income students without access to certain resources. Considering need during admissions might actually allow admissions officers to better evaluate students based on the resources allotted to them and not based on the resources they just didn’t have available to them.
A few faculty and staff of the City College of New York stress the importance of investing in minority-serving colleges. Access initiatives lately have largely emphasized the need to send more low-income students to elite colleges. Elite colleges are idealized as the solutions for students. However, this fails to address the larger problem of lack of investment in many other institutions that already serve a large percentage of minority students. Why not focus on the potential instead of opting for the simplistic solution of funneling low-income students into a set number of elite schools?
Yesenia Arroyo, a student at Princeton, offers a critique of the notion that students shouldn’t pursue a high-paying job after graduation because it hurts the middle class. As a low-income first-generation student, Arroyo says that her education is largely motivated by the possibility of helping her family reach financial stability. While personal fulfillment is often emphasized in educational pursuit, Arroyo says that some students don’t have the luxury of making their education about only themselves.
Princeton students make the case for opening a center dedicated to serving first-generation students. An office would help raise awareness about this population and help bridge the gap of support.
The University of Cincinnati has one of the most innovative support systems for first-generation students. Its Gen-1 house is a living-learning community for first-gen, low-income students. Its retention rate, which rivals any university, is a testament to its dedication to supporting these students. Creating a support system is essential to first-generation and low-income students and Gen-1 seems to provide just that.
79 graduating seniors from Georgetown received a private, shopping spree at Ann Taylor. The entire store was discounted 40 percent, and each student received a $250 gift card to build their workplace wardrobes. With business attire being an expensive investment, this is a big help for low-income students. Georgetown continues to show its dedication to supporting this population of students.
A Notre Dame alumnus discusses the need for supporting low-income students and calls for a low-income student center.
Rutgers has created the Office of Student Access and Educational Equity to bring seven programs under one roof serving low-income, first-generation, and other underrepresented students.
A new campus program at Stephen F. Austin State University is dedicated to the success of first-generation students. Generation Jacks, or GenJacks, was introduced on campus at the beginning of the Fall 2014 Semester.
The program is a three-semester cohort-style learning community that assists incoming first-generation college students with the transition to college. In the three semesters, students who chose to participate will take five linked classes—rhetoric & composition, general psychology, freshman seminar, career development and an internship placement in which they will shadow a professional for early experience in a professional environment.
What a fantastic program for first-gen students. I only wish my school could have had something like this!
This new program at the University of Colorado at Boulder awards $2,000 for summer-term study abroad and $4,000 for semester-term study abroad to first-generation, low-income and other underrepresented students. With study abroad rates among these student populations lagging, this is a great new initiative to improve access to these programs.
The Univerity of Florida Foundation launched an initiative to raise $100 million for the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars program, which has given thousands of students scholarships for college. In addition to scholarships, the program offers robust services for students while in college. As I have discussed on the this blog in the past, UF is a leading school in supporting first-gen students. It not only considers financial need but also social support, which is essential for student success.
A current high school senior writes a provocative, yet humorous, piece on the ridiculousness of college admissions. Amanda asks elite colleges to stop sending her messages and booklets if she is far from qualified to attend those colleges. I thought this was relevant in thinking about how first-generation students fit into the race for prestige with low admissions.