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Closing the College Participation Gap


Closing the College Participation Gap: A National Summary PDF - As state economies decline and enrollment demand grows, people’s opportunity to obtain a postsecondary education – and states’ ability to provide access to one – is likely to be challenged in the coming years. This ECS report examines the potential threats to college participation, and offers assistance for policymakers interested in increasing access, particularly for disadvantaged populations. Major findings include: the United States is falling behind other industrialized nations in college participation; demographic and economic forces are converging to limit states’ ability to protect, much less expand, college access; and growing gaps in participation rates based on age, race and income level suggest large numbers of people are at risk of losing access to a college education. The major theme of the report is that closing the postsecondary participation gap is key to improving both economic and social well-being in states. Also available are profiles for all 50 states. (Sandra Ruppert, Education Commission of the States, 2003)...

Narrowing the Gaps in Educational Attainment Within States: A Policymaker’s Guide for Assessing and Responding to Needs for Community College Services PDF - Community colleges are typically viewed as institutions capable of providing a low-cost, open-access education and narrowing disparities that exist from region to region in a state. This paper from Aims McGuinness Jr. and Dennis Jones urges policymakers to rethink the crucial role community colleges play in a state’s social and economic climate. The report includes comparative state data and a descriptive summary of community college services, including remedial and adult education, transfer and career preparation, and general education. (Aims McGuinness Jr. and Dennis Jones, Education Commission of the States, 2003) ...

The Adult Learning Gap: Why States Need to Change Their Policies Toward Adult Learners PDF - In a knowledge-based economy, a postsecondary education is a prerequisite for success. College graduates earn almost double the amount of those with no postsecondary education. But it is not just the individual who benefits – the states do, as well. In this paper, the authors examine the needs of adult learners and the ways in which states can encourage and shape the future of adult education. Changing economics and demographics demand a rethinking of adult learning and its impact on the quality of life for everyone in states. Recommendations include increasing and diversifying the amount of financial aid available to adult learners and placing a new emphasis on adult literacy and ESL programs. (Alice Ann Bailey and James R. Mingle, Education Commission of the States, 2003)...

Cost, Commitment, and Attainment in Higher Education: An International Comparison - This report moves away from the more traditional approach of comparing countries on the basis of college entry rates and focuses instead on completion rates. The authors look at the amount that countries spend on tertiary education per student; the share of GPD a country spend on tertiary education; and the share of working-age adults holding a tertiary education degree. They conclude by recommending more resources for community colleges, more attention to developing strategies to improve completion rates, and increasing enrollments to moderate costs. (Arthur Hauptman and Young Kim, Jobs for the Future, May 2009)...

Promise Lost: College-Qualified Students Who Don’t Enroll in College - The importance of promoting college access for all college-qualified students will continue to grow as the United States grapples with the challenges and opportunities of a global economy. This report provides an overview of the key factors in college access. The report presents the results of the national survey of non-college-goers. College-qualified students who enrolled in college are compared with those who did not enroll. There is discussion of differences among groups of non-college-goers. A secondary survey of counselors discusses counselors’ perceptions of the barriers to college enrollment. Finally, there is discussion of the results of the surveys, the policy implications and suggestions for further research. (Institute for Higher Education Policy, Ryan Hahn and Derek Price, November 2008)...

Waiting to Attend College: Undergraduates Who Delay Their Postsecondary Enrollment - About one-third of students enrolling in postsecondary education for the first time in 1995-96 had waited a year or more after graduating high school to attend. This report discusses the characteristics of these students, examining the type of institutions they attended, the degree programs they were enrolled in, their attendance status, employment intensity while enrolled, overall persistence and attainment and more. Students who delayed college entry a year or more after high school were more likely to have family and educational experiences that placed them at greater risk for not completing their postsecondary education and they primarily enrolled to gain or enhance their work skills, tending to enroll in shorter term vocational programs rather than bachelor’s degree programs. (Laura Horn, Emily Forrest Cataldi, Anna Sikora and C. Dennis Carroll, National Center for Education Statistics, June 2005)...

Pathways to the Bachelor’s Degree for Latino Students - Part III of the study Latino Students and The Educational Pipeline, which uses National Educational Longitudinal Study data to compare Latino and white students, focuses on students who attained a bachelor’s degree and what it took to get there. By taking into consideration student and family characteristics, postsecondary aspirations and planning behaviors, secondary school activities, postsecondary activities and financial support factors, the bachelor’s degree persistence gap can be dramatically reduced by taking action in specific areas. Latino students who are supported by their families in the pursuit of postsecondary education, create a plan by the 8th grade, take three years of mathematics or more, start at a four-year institution, maintain continuous enrollment and a gradepoint average of 2.50 or above can close the gap. (Watson Scott Swail, Alberto F. Cabrera, Chul Lee and Adriane Williams, Educational Policy Institute, April 2005)...

Gender Differences in Participation and Completion of Undergraduate Education and How They Have Changed Over Time - In recent years, much has been made about the declining participation rates of males at the postsecondary level. According to this report from the National Center for Education Statistics, between 1970 and 2001 women went from being the minority on college campuses to the majority, increasing their representation from 42% to 56% of the undergraduate population. This figure is expected to increase in the future. By comparing the postsecondary participation and completion rates of men and women, this study also is able to highlight recent trends in high school preparation, college persistence and workforce development. (Kathleen Peter, Laura Horn and C. Dennis Carroll, National Center for Education Statistics, February 2005)...

Challenges in Improving Latino College Enrollment: Opportunities for Systemic Change (Viewpoints from California) - The Tomás Rivera Policy Institute's 2004 fall conference was convened to discuss how to improve Latino enrollment on a systemic level in California. This paper provides readers with summaries of six presentations from the conference: (1) The Present and Coming Crisis: Demography and Education; (2) A View from the Academic Community; (3) A View from the Trenches; (4) Keynote Presentation: The Invisible People; (5) Applications of Real-World Solutions; and (6) Financing College: The Unspoken Obstacle. (The Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, March 2005)...

Empty Promises: The Myth of College Access in America - Is hard work in high school and college all that is necessary to earn a college degree? Are there qualified high school graduates who are not going to college due to financial barriers? During the next 10 years, nearly two million high school graduates will not participate in any postsecondary education. For these students, the promise of college is an empty one. In this report, policymakers can learn about the challenges states face in trying to ensure all qualified students have the opportunity to attend postsecondary education. (Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, June 2002)...

Access Denied: Restoring the Nation’s Commitment to Equal Educational Opportunity - Despite the recent period of prosperity that has bestowed unprecedented wealth on the nation and many American families, each year increasing numbers of low-income students graduate from high school academically unprepared to enter college and confront significant financial barriers that limit their ability to access and stay in college. As a result, the college-entry and completion rates of low-income students continue to lag well behind their middle- and upper-income peers. This report addresses the ramification of limited access – how it effects economic productivity and the growth of the country, how it narrows the gap in college participation rates – and makes policy recommendations for how to increase access for all students. (Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, February 2001)...


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