Members in the News: Two College Board Partners Named "Most Innovative People in Higher Education"
Members in the News: Two College Board Partners Named "Most Innovative People in Higher Education"College Board Communications
In their September/October 2016 issue, Washington Monthly featured16 innovators who are “working to make higher education more accessible, affordable, and effective.” The College Board was happy to see two of our partners top the list—Nicole Hurd, founder of College Advising Corps, and Dan Porterfield, president of Franklin & Marshall College and member of our Board of Trustees.
From the article:
NICOLE HURD, College Advising Corps
The national average ratio of guidance counselors to public high school students is 1 to 471; in California, it’s 1 to 1,000. Compounding the issue, counselors in modest and poor districts are evaluated based on whether their students finish high school, not whether they apply to and succeed in college. And, of course, wealthy districts have more advisers than poor ones, which means that the kids who could use the most help are getting the least. Hurd founded the College Advising Corps to address the problem. A national service organization, the CAC recruits recent college graduates and deploys them to high schools with high numbers of low-income students. Think Teach for America, but for counseling—and with some important differences. CAC advisers overwhelmingly resemble the students they help: 66 percent are underrepresented minorities, 62 percent were eligible for Pell Grants in college, and 54 percent were the first in their families to go to college. They’re not taking anyone’s job: they’re on the payroll of the university they graduated from, with their salaries coming half from the university and half from a mix of philanthropic and public sources. The goal is to work with teachers, counselors, and principals to create a culture in which kids expect to go to college. Hurd recalls getting a call from a principal gushing about a CAC adviser. The adviser had found that many of her students refused to engage with the admissions process because they didn’t know anyone who’d ever gone to college. So she convinced the school’s teachers to put signs on their classroom doors showing not only their name, but also their alma mater—a small but meaningful way to make students realize that they were surrounded by people who had gone to college. The CAC can point to more concrete results, too. Over the past two years, college enrollment rates in its New York City partner schools have gone up by 35 percent. But Hurd knows the organization can’t single-handedly solve the college-advising crisis. “That’s not going to happen without public investment,” she says. “Part of our goal is to execute with excellence and keep proving to everybody that this works.”
DAN PORTERFIELD, Franklin & Marshall College
Can a selective liberal arts college triple its share of low-income students in a few years without sacrificing academic quality? The example of Franklin & Marshall suggests that the answer is yes. Since Porterfield became president in 2011, Pell-eligible students have gone from 5 percent of the student body to 19 percent.
That’s one result of the ambitious Next Generation Initiative, a multipronged effort to boost Franklin & Marshall’s socioeconomic, racial, and geographic diversity. The college has eliminated so-called merit aid, which overwhelmingly goes to students who can afford tuition, and doubled its spending on need-based aid. It hosts a three-week summer prep program for high-achieving, low-income high school seniors from urban charter networks and rural Pennsylvania schools. And each year the school accepts two ten-student cohorts from the Posse Foundation, a nonprofit focused on college access. Porterfield is especially proud that these students are actually improving the academic environment. First-generation students and Pell Grant recipients have the same average grades as the overall student body, and students who get need-based aid are graduating at a higher rate, with higher GPAs, than the school as a whole. The college says it has gotten more selective, not less, since it started the initiative. To Porterfield, that makes it an obvious win-win. “I wish I could tell you that I was facing competition from ten other top schools,” he says. “But the reality is, these students are under-recruited.” Once on campus, they raise the bar for everyone. “Education is one endeavor where everybody wins if you give low-income kids an opportunity.”
See the full list of innovators on Washington Monthly.