Strategies to Boost Enrollment of Low-Income, High-Ability Students in Selective Admissions Colleges

From the New York Times:  "The group that administers the SAT has begun a nationwide outreach program to try to persuade more low-income high school seniors who scored high on standardized tests to apply to select colleges.  The group, the College Board, is sending a package of information on top colleges to every senior who has an SAT or Preliminary SAT score in the top 15 percent of test takers and whose family is in the bottom quarter of income distribution. The package, which includes application fee waivers to six colleges of the student’s choice, will be sent to roughly 28,000 seniors...."

From the Chronicle of Higher Education.  The author is the governor of Delaware.  Some of solutions being enacted in the state are similar to those used in TRiO programs for decades.  It is good to see embracement of the TRiO practice, better yet to see them reference the pioneering work of the TRiO community.  The whole article is available by clicking this web link or by going to the Chronicle web site.

"A recent study by the Stanford economist Caroline M. Hoxby and Christopher Avery, of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, found that academically qualified, low-income students are far less likely to apply to or attend the nation's most selective colleges than their higher-income counterparts are. Only 34 percent of high-achieving high-school seniors in the bottom quarter of family income went to one of the 238 most selective colleges, compared with 78 percent of students from the top quarter. Those who underestimate their qualifications graduate from college far less frequently and lose out on career opportunities—and we as a society lose out on the contributions they could make.

Recognizing the role a college education can play in lifting young people out of poverty, I am distressed that we have students from those backgrounds—many of whom would be first in their family to go to college—who have earned the chance to pursue a degree but don't realize it and, thus, never reach their full potential. Many times they don't even apply to college, because they think they can't afford it and they don't have anyone telling them it is possible.

The good news is that research shows we can change this trend simply by better informing these students. In Delaware last month we announced that the College Board would send information on college affordability and financial aid, as well as materials to help with choosing colleges, to all seniors whose high-school work demonstrates that they are ready for college.

Additionally, low-income students will receive application-fee waivers, which have traditionally been far too complicated to obtain. And our highest-achieving low-income students will find a letter signed by all of the Ivy League schools, Stanford, and MIT, congratulating them on their achievements, encouraging them to apply, and letting them know that many low- and moderate-income students attend those institutions at no cost."