Colleges Make Progress in Year Since White House Pledge

As part of the Presidential and Department of Education
College Opportunity Event in January 2014, leaders across academia and in various scholastic
fields met with key policy makers in Washington, D.C., to discuss the nature of higher
education. Recognizing the growing increase in diversity amongst college
admissions and a subsequent need for greater access to college for low-income
Americans, the committee devised national guidelines for insuring both
secondary and university success.

The program called on colleges across the country to submit updated
institutional commitments to low-income and first-generation students. Administration
from each of the 5Cs attended the summit and presented their own policy


Claremont McKenna College launched The Student Imperative to
fulfill the goals that they pledged in January 2014.

CMC’s largest initiative is to raise $100 million of
endowment to provide better financial aid for students, according to the pledge.
CMC also pledged to increase the number of cohort groups on campus. Cohort groups are a small
group of 5-6 students of low-, moderate-, or middle-income families or
have special academic interests.

According to an article written by Associate Vice President
of Admission and Financial Aid Georgette
DeVeres and Director of Leadership Giving Josh Walter CM ’01 in the winter
issue of CMC’s magazine, while it was ordinary to have more than 50-60 percent of
students at CMC receive financial aid, the class of 2018’s number dropped under
50 percent.

“While that signals that many of our families can afford the
cost of a CMC education, that number also sends another implicit message to
many mid- and lower-income families: Only those who can meet the full cost need
apply,” DeVeres and Walter wrote. “As a result, many passionate, motivated students … disqualify themselves
before even filling out an application.” 

According to President Hiram Chodosh, the campaign has
raised $65 million so far. DeVeres and Walter wrote that the fund will be used to
support “institutional resources, loans, grants, ROTC funding,” and more.

The college is also continuing efforts to build cohorts of
first- and second-year students, such as the Dreier Roundtable, the Wagner Family
Global Scholarships Program and the Conte Scholars Program. The latter program was
established by business leader and policy entrepreneur J.P. Conte and began
last fall. Edgar Morelos CM ’16 is a Conte Scholar who was at a community
college before coming to CMC.

“One of the reasons that I had to go to community college is
because I don’t have access to a lot of financial aid resources, so coming to
CMC the Conte Scholars made a huge difference. I didn’t have to take any loans,”
Morelos said. “I know I’m privileged to have it and I want to try to make the
most of it … so eventually I can open the doors for other people in my

-Diane Lee


Harvey Mudd College made a pledge to guarantee every student one summer of
experiential learning. According to Assistant Vice President
for Communications and Marketing Tim Hussey, this includes “research with a faculty member, an internship or a public service opportunity.”

The pledge also included building on their efforts to support
women, minorities and first generation college students at the college and build K-12 STEM awareness. As of the end of 2014, HMC has raised just over $13 million to spend towards experiential learning.

HMC will continue to reach out to potential donors such as alumni, parents, and friends of the college to get more funding.

“The greatest obstacle continues to be securing enough
lasting funding to make the pledge a reality,” Hussey wrote in an email to TSL.

Peter Saeta, a professor of physics and the physics
department chair, said that there are not enough
research opportunities for all physics majors currently because of insufficient funding. The
department is working with alumni to raise more money for this purpose.

“Having opportunities for all
majors by the time they graduate is essential,” Saeta said.

According to
Hussey, research opportunities have always been a key factor
in drawing potential applicants.

“As we expand
opportunities for summer experiential learning, I would expect that interest
would only grow,” Hussey wrote.

HMC has also kept up its support for women. In an update on
their progress in June, HMC reported that they had
graduated their first majority female engineering class, with 56 percent. 

HMC has also created two new programs to generate K-12 interest in
STEM. The college has developed and launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) physics course for high school students and is also in the
process of launching a course for middle and high school teachers.

-Cai Glencross


College committed to “partnering with
new community based organizations (CBOs) nationally that serve disadvantaged
students,” according to their pledge. The
college’s “Pathways Initiative” also promised to increase
visits by admission officers to CBOs and other low-income communities
across the country. The initiative also aims to further increase the number of
applications from first-generation students.

Interim Vice President for Admission and Financial Aid Jamila Everett wrote in an email to TSL that admission officers have visited
over 25 CBOs in the 2013-14 recruitment cycle. Pitzer had already created a
plan in summer 2014 to attract more first-generation students. As a result,
there was a 40 percent increase in the number of applications from these students who make up 14 percent of the Class of 2018.

Pitzer has
also increased its efforts in making the campus more inclusive of
first-generation students with the creation of the First-Generation Program, “designed to help first-gen students feel at home
on campus,” according to Everett. Resident
Director Annie Greaney and Linda Lam, coordinator for the Center for Asian
Pacific American Students, are overseeing the program; both were first-generation
students. In the beginning of the school
year, the college hosted a first-generation social.

“It was a great event to bring
faculty, current students, and staff members who are also first-generation
students together to discuss the challenges and opportunities and to create a
network of support,” Everett wrote.

Looking forward, Pitzer seeks to host a CBO summit for both local and
national college counselors.

“Overall, we are doing extremely well with meeting our goals,” Everett said. “We
obviously have more work to do but we are making huge strides in living
Pitzer’s values by understanding the inequities in our educational system and
actively recruiting, enrolling, and supporting students from all socioeconomic

-Carlos Ballesteros


Pomona College has a three-part plan in its White House
pledge. First, it pledged that it would increase the number of Pell Grant
recipients from 17 percent to 20 percent. Second, the college planned to accept a second Posse
group. Finally, Pomona pledged to increase the number of transfer students from
community colleges from 1-4 to 7-10 students per year according to the pledge.

The number of students receiving Pell Grant in the Class of 2018 was in
the 19 percent range, according to President David Oxtoby.

Oxtoby also said that the college will welcome its first
Miami Posse group in the fall. The Posse Foundation connects high school students
with its partner colleges to receive four-year, full-tuition scholarships. Pomona has
had a Chicago Posse for 10 years.

This first group of 10 Miami Posse students have already
committed to Pomona in January and will join the Class of 2019. Jazmin Ocampo
PO ’17, a student in the Chicago Posse program, said that as a first-generation
student, she appreciates the moral and academic support from Posse.

“It’s been more than just having people to have meals with. It’s
been a connection more to home,” Ocampo said. “I don’t know if I would have
felt comfortable being in this school if it weren’t for Posse and the community
of Posse.”

Oxtoby said that the college is making efforts to build
relationships with local community colleges and also visited Miami Dade College, a
community college in Miami and the largest college in the U.S., in September 2014.

Oxtoby said that the White House provided a needed push not
only for Pomona, but also across the nation.

“There are schools that are so far behind. We can do more at
Pomona, I’m not saying we can’t do more but there are schools which are real
laggards,” he said. “We’d been talking about this sort of thing and so it sort
of pushed us to move a little bit faster than we might have otherwise.”

-Diane Lee


Scripps College is concentrating their work on financial aid,
outreach and student enrollment. In 2013, the college had already called for
an expansion of the school’s endowment by $35 million by June 2018.

To increase admit rates for disadvantaged
students, the school also intended to expand its QuestBridge
scholars program while capping the amount of debt a loan-recipient may face at
under $18,000. The QuestBridge program provides support for underrepresented students in
their college application process.

Lastly, the school encouraged active mentorship for local youth
as well as increases to Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment
(SCORE) and other resource programs on campus.

Thirteen months later, President Lori Bettison-Varga
Scripps’ progress in reaching their goals and the $35 million goal.

“Individuals and foundations have donated these gifts. To date, we have raised
$19 million toward the $35 million goal,” Bettison-Varga wrote in an email to TSL.

Scripps visited 11
community-based organizations in the last year and participated in
DecemberFest, a counselor tour hosted by The Claremont Colleges, Caltech, University
of Redlands, Whittier and Occidental. With these steps in place, Scripps hopes to see all goals
met with the arrival of the Class of 2022.

“[This initiative] underscores our overriding commitment to
make Scripps College as accessible as possible to as many qualified students as
possible, regardless of financial need,” Bettison-Varaga wrote.
“Unlike many other similar-sized colleges, Scripps is committed to meeting the
full need of each student.”

-Sean Gunther

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