“We want to restore the essential promise of opportunity and upward mobility that’s at the heart of America,” President Obama said at a White House summit on higher education. “If we as a nation can … reach out to [low-income] young people and help them not just go to college, but graduate from college or university, it could have a transformative effect.”
The “story of opportunity through education is the story of my life,” said First Lady Michelle Obama, who grew up in a working-class family and went to Princeton.
The administration asked colleges and universities to encourage low-income students to apply to challenging schools, start college preparation earlier, expand college advising and improve college remediation.
In California, the three branches of the higher education system – community colleges, state universities, and the University of California – will jointly reach out to seventh-graders in the state to encourage them to prepare for college and understand financial aid options.
Only 1 in 4 community college students in remedial classes go on to earn a degree, notes the White House report, Increasing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students. Summit participants have committed to “strengthening instruction, using technology, better supporting students in remediation, and reducing the need for remediation.”
Achieving the Dream, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and Jobs for the Future will work with community colleges and other higher education groups to develop and implement promising practices that accelerate progression through remediation and gateway courses.
Update: It was “a productive meeting,” Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, told Community College Daily. “It will be the broad access institutions that will play the big role — not the nation’s elite universities. There needs to be more focus on leveraging the nation’s community colleges to promote access and college/university completion at more affordable rates.”
“The summit helped to reframe the current rhetoric around higher education, away from the issues of rating and affordability, to issues of access for low-income students, our importance for economic competitiveness, and the need for increased public and private investment in our work,” said Karen Stout, president of Montgomery County Community College (Pennsylvania). “The administration has clearly recognized our role in workforce development. I am pleased that our important role in transfer was recognized today in such a public way, by so many, including our university colleagues.”