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Expanding college access

Online Writing Lab (OWL)

An internal assessment of writing in 2012 found students at Excelsior College struggling—just like many of their peers across the nation.

Recognizing the importance of writing to professional success, leaders at the college in Albany, New York, created a resource to help students improve their skills.

The Online Writing Lab, built using responsive design in an open source environment, was made available to students 24/7, at no cost.

LIFE (Learning, Improvement, Fun and Empowerment)

An influx of Hispanic residents over the last decade has created an opportunity for NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville.

Recognizing that a significant percentage of Hispanic students from outside the area had little experience with higher education—including what it is like, how to apply or even that it was an option for them—the college in 2012 developed a program to introduce high school students to the basics.

UMass Lowell 2020

“When you first come from high school to a large university, it’s overwhelming. You can feel disconnected,” says John Ting, vice provost for enrollment at UMass Lowell.

That disconnected feeling seemed to partially explain the university’s discovery in 2007 that its retention and graduation rates for first-year undergraduate students were below national averages.

Unconquered Scholars Program

There’s underserved, and then there’s underserved.

Foster kids. The homeless. Wards of the state. Young people as deserving of a college education as anyone, but victims of circumstances not of their making.

Florida State University in Tallahassee gives this often forgotten population a chance. In addition to offering a pathway to college, the Unconquered Scholars Program provides students with guidance, mentoring, advocacy and a voice. Along with considerable academic support, the program prepares students to live independently—perhaps for the first time in their life.

Dual Degree Program

Elaine Maimon doesn’t mince words when she hears her fellow four-year university presidents complain about the quality of community college students who transfer to their school.

“Universities have not done anything to inspire students to have a coherent experience at the community colleges,” says Maimon, who heads up Governors State University in Illinois. “We at the universities have a responsibility to partner with the community colleges to make sure the students have the best possible chance of having a coherent, quality experience throughout their four years.”

3-Tiered Model of Advising

You can imagine the reaction when Miami Dade College, with its enrollment of 165,000, expanded its academic advising load to incoming students still in high school. That meant staff would need to advise an additional 14,000 students.

“I still remember one of the very first conversations with the student affairs deans,” says Lenore Rodicio, provost for academic and student affairs. “I thought we were going to need to do some emergency treatment on some of them.”

Navigation Advising

Advising at State Fair Community College in Missouri begins not just when students enroll, but before they even apply.

State Fair sends staffers from its Navigation Advising program to high schools to discuss how to be a college student. These visits aren’t about recruitment, but a chance to explain the college application process, financial aid and advising, among other topics.

Scholarship Universe

The financial crash of 2008 gave Arizona’s college students a one-two punch. First, the state’s financial support dropped the furthest in the country. Second, scholarship dollars grew scarcer as donors had less to give.

Sam Houston Establishing Leadership In and Through Education

When Miguel Arellano Arriaga talks about Sam Houston’s Establishing Leadership In and Through Education program, his perspective is multifaceted. Arellano Arriaga, the coordinator of “SH ELITE” at the Texas university, also went through the program as an undergraduate at Sam Houston.

“It definitely was eye-opening,” he says. “They talk to you about college in high school and they tell you a little bit about what it’s going to be about, but you really don’t know until you get here.”

Coyote First STEP

With just 1,400 beds serving a student population of 19,000, California State University, San Bernardino, is the classic commuter campus. As part of a transition to a stronger on-campus student experience, officials have launched a residential-life initiative to provide math preparation and engage students in campus life before they even begin taking classes.

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