“Gaping opportunity gaps between low-income students and their peers can be plugged only if campuses share data and success strategies, say researchers who gathered [in Austin] on Monday to kick off a new national effort to help disadvantaged students reach the middle class,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
“So far, about 200 colleges representing 3.5 million students have signed on to the Collegiate Leaders in Increasing MoBility, or CLIMB, partnership.
The inaugural conference, held at the University of Texas’ flagship campus, brought together higher-education economists, nonprofit groups, and college officials who are all seeking ways to increase college completion rates and economic opportunities for underrepresented students. The lead researchers, including Raj Chetty, a professor of economics at Stanford University, hope to glean lessons from colleges with the highest mobility rates.
Policy solutions need to be tailored to specific campuses, and that can’t happen until better data are available and shared, said John N. Friedman, an associate professor of economics and international and public affairs at Brown University. Mr. Friedman, one of the key researchers working on the project, started his presentation with a chart showing the steadily declining percentage of children earning more, when adjusted for inflation, than their parents.
Getting low-income students in the door can be a challenge at a time of widespread skepticism about the value of a college degree.
‘In rural North Carolina and rural areas elsewhere, higher education is seen as a way to kill a community,’ said Margaret Spellings, president of the University of North Carolina system and a former education secretary under President George W. Bush. ‘Sonny or Precious goes off to college never to be seen again.’
First-generation students can also get overwhelmed by the “crazy quilt” of paperwork and requirements they have to navigate through, she said.”