Several hundred higher education leaders gathered in Washington yesterday for the second White House College Opportunity Day of Action, an event that focused on efforts to help students prepare for and graduate from college.
Participants committed to take concrete new steps in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
For example, Pat McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University (DC), told Marketplace of the partnership her institution has formed with DC Public Schools to better prepare students in math.
“We get a lot of students who want to be nurses, but they have no idea how much math and science nurses have to have, so they’re unable to do well in those courses,” she said. “If we could prepare students better starting in middle school and high school, we’d have better completion rates in college.”
As part of the administration’s effort, ACE committed to building a web-based discussion and resources forum to help sustain the momentum generated by the Day of Action.
ACE President Molly Corbett Broad participated in a summit panel with John Dunn, president of Western Michigan University, and John Austin, chair of Michigan's State Board of Education, during which she spoke about the American College Application Campaign (ACAC), which reached 230,000 students in some 4,000 high schools in all 50 states this fall, focusing on first-generation and low-income students who otherwise would not apply for college.
The White House also announced a range of new initiatives at the event, including a $30 million expansion of AmeriCorps for corps members to mentor low-income students who want to attend college, and $10 million for the federal Institute of Education Sciences to sponsor research on improving college completion. Full details are available here.