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Elite colleges recruit community college transfers

As elite colleges try to boost diversity, more community college students are transferring to selective four-year institutions, reports the New York Times.

At the end of his first year at the Community College of Philadelphia, Christopher Thomas decided that his goal — to go back to school and get a degree — was no longer worth it. He was in debt from thousands of dollars in student loans. After class, he rode a bus an hour and a half to a suburban restaurant where he worked as a waiter. When the shift ended at midnight, it took him three buses to get home. He couldn’t afford a computer, so in the middle of the night, he walked to his aunt’s house and used hers to finish his class work.

. . . A woman in the college’s Institutional Advancement department, Patricia Conroy, kept sending e-mails about a $2,000 scholarship. “WHY DON’T YOU APPLY FOR THIS,” she wrote. He won one.

. . . This fall he will enter the University of Pennsylvania.

Increasingly, the students here are making that jump. Dawn-Stacy Joyner, a former hospital cook, will also attend the University of Pennsylvania. Nine women graduating this spring have been accepted to Bryn Mawr. Larry Thi, who hopes to become a teacher, transferred to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

As debt fears grow, more ambitious students are starting at community college with hopes of going to a selective college or university, according to Rod Risley, executive director of Phi Theta Kappa, the community college honor society. While most community college students don’t tranfer, those who do are likely to compelete a degree.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation gives scholarships of up to $30,000 a year to to help outstanding community college students earn a bachelor’s degree. The foundation also gives up to $1 million a year for community college recruitment by such four-year institutions as the University of Michigan, Cornell, Amherst, Berkeley, the University of North Carolina and Bryn Mawr.