For one student, the difference was a financial-aid officer who took the time to draw him out about personal problems that were derailing his studies. For another, it was a cohort of classmates who urged him on when work, college, and family pressures collided.
The strategies that their small, private colleges took to help those low-income students succeed took center stage here on Wednesday at a three-day conference highlighting a group that isn’t used to being in the spotlight.
The four-year-old Yes We Must Coalition includes 36 colleges that joined forces to share ideas on how to raise graduation rates and make college affordable. All have 5,000 or fewer undergraduates, at least half of whom are eligible for Pell Grants. Most offer four-year degrees, but a few are two-year colleges.
The colleges, many of which were started with the mission of serving low-income and minority students, tend to be isolated, either geographically or in terms of their missions, from the rest of the higher-education establishment, said Gloria Nemerowicz, the group’s founder and president. Gaining clout is one of the coalition’s goals. <Read more.>