Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

New Reports Help Answer Expanding College Opportunity Challenge

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

New Reports Help Answer Expanding College Opportunity Challenge

Article excerpt

On the day the Obama administration convened a White House summit on expanding college opportunity for low-income Americans last month, The Education Trust advocacy organization released a pair of reports highlighting measures institutions can take to boost enrollment and graduation rates of underrepresented minorities and low-income students.

In "Learning from High-Performing and Fast-Gaining Institutions" and "Leading Change: Increasing Graduation Rates at CSU-Northridge," Education Trust researchers document case studies and strategies that institutions--ranging from those with open admissions to highly competitive flagship public universities and selective private schools--can employ to increase "success rates for low-income students and students of color."

Release of the new reports coincides with the Obama administration's call for higher education institutions to improve their college-going and completion rates among low-income and minority students. Just one day prior to the January 16 summit, the White House announced that colleges, nonprofit groups and foundations had pledged more than 100 program commitments to help thousands of low-income students earn a college degree.

"Leading colleges and universities are teaching us that just letting more students in isn't enough," said Kati Haycock, president of the Washington-based Education Trust, in a statement. "Colleges need to assume their share of responsibility for making sure students have the supports they need to complete.

"The growth of economic inequality and decline of social mobility in recent decades has made it that much more important that we radically increase the number of low-income students and students of color completing a college education," Haycock added.

Joseph Yeado, a co-author of the reports and higher education research and policy analyst with The Education Trust, says that with American colleges and universities being challenged to increase college access and helping boost graduation rates for low-income and minority students, the new reports by The Education Trust provide compelling examples of institutions that have made strides to improve success for their students.

"It's important to keep in mind that three-quarters of all college students attend a public institution, and so what the reports highlight are that there are schools that are making significant gains in raising retention and graduation rates for low-income students and students of color. …

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