Over the first few weeks of the school year, the University has announced a series of initiatives targeting under-resourced students, including those who are the first in their families to go to college or come from low-income backgrounds. The University has announced a new application system for the 2016–17 application cycle called the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, an alternative to the Common App and Universal App, specifically catering to students from low-income backgrounds. Additionally, in a student-wide e-mail, the University recently announced its new Center for College Student Success, an office dedicated to supporting students from under-resourced backgrounds. The Center will provide a mentoring program for first-generation students this year and is working on additional programming, such as workshops on navigating the University. The new Center provides a much-needed space for students to feel supported and works with administrators to make the University a more welcoming place to students from a diversity of backgrounds.
The University has lagged behind peer institutions in terms of accessibility. This year, The New York Times’s College Access Index, which measures the socioeconomic diversity at colleges, gave the University a slightly below average ranking, as it had last year. Many of our peer institutions such as Dartmouth, Yale, Columbia, and Harvard score above average. This score is based off of the number of graduates receiving Pell Grants and the net price of attendance for middle-income students. In light of these numbers, it’s encouraging to see the University make concerted efforts to address these problems.
The Maroon Editorial Board encourages the University to sustain the momentum of these recent efforts. The new Center for College Student Success’s engagement with students is promising, and hopefully these conversations will lead to further initiatives, such as providing a textbook bank and expanding financial aid. With time, we hope the University’s new initiatives will tangible and quantitative results for its students.
--The Maroon Editorial Board