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Laying the Groundwork to Increase College Access

The Charge: Colorado College is a highly selective institution that attracts outstanding students from around the globe. While recent efforts to identify and recruit disadvantaged students have improved campus diversity and the academic profile of incoming students, we need to continue to work on making CC accessible to more students from low- and middle-income families. In addition, the number of Coloradans has decreased in recent years as the college has become more selective and we want to do more to support educational excellence in our local community.

What’s Happening: In 2017-18 a committee led by Professor Barry Sarchett was asked to develop a proposal for a new initiative to enhance the pipeline of college-ready students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the Pikes Peak Region. This initiative will reach out to students early in their educations so that they have the necessary academic credentials, skills, and attributes to attend Colorado College and other elite colleges across the country. While the college is currently involved in many smaller initiatives that support these goals, we know little about their impact. This new initiative will now focus our efforts on one to two specific programs that can be assessed and improved to increase our impact.

The group worked intensively, meeting once a block during the 2017-18 academic year, as well as during a weekend retreat.  They also made site visits to the University of Southern California, Pomona College, and the LEDA (Leadership for Diverse America) offices in New York City, all places with highly successful college access programs.  In addition, they garnered extensive information about the equally successful programs at Dartmouth and the University of Chicago.

As a result of their work, the college will begin laying the ground work to launch the new program in 2020.  The program seeks to identify 15 highly talented students in the ninth grade, and requires them to attend a one-block, on-campus (in residence five days a week and weekends at home) program every summer through their summer as rising seniors.  In addition, the students would attend Saturday sessions during the academic year; these would consist of academic-preparation courses and various workshops for the students and their families in financial planning, financial-aid education, and other helpful matters. Each year, 15 more students will be recruited, bringing the program up to 60 students. Once students enroll in college, the program will track their progress through their college graduation. You can read the committee’s full report here.

Committee members included –

Barry Sarchett (Chair), Professor of English
Paul Buckley, Director of the Butler Center
Manya Whitaker, Assistant Professor of Education
Eric Popkin, Associate Professor of Sociology
Neena Grover, Professor of Biochemistry
Kate Leonard, Professor of Art
Carlos Jimenez, Director of Admission – Outreach and Recruitment
Jordan Radke, Director of the Collaborative for Community Engagement