PINEVILLE, La. (LCNews) – Louisiana College has partnered with nonprofit Strive for College to strengthen college opportunities for low-income, first-generation college students.
According to LC President Rick Brewer, by becoming a Strive for College Partner, the school has demonstrated a commitment to enrolling and graduating low-income and first-generation college students. Campus programs and support services for students also will be strengthened through Strive’s programs.
“Louisiana College has implemented many services in the last several years to assist first-gen students, and we are committed to offering programs to ensure all our students reach their full potential,” Brewer said. “We are very excited to enter this partnership with Strive for College as this is the kind of resource prospective students and families need when considering which college to attend.
“LC continues to find ways to make a Christian college education both affordable and accessible for all college students.”
The College was ranked fourth highest return on investment (ROI) among private colleges in the state and fifth highest among public schools offering bachelor of arts degrees according to a report released by Georgetown University in Fall 2019.
An estimated 24 percent of students enrolled in college are low-income, first-generation college students. But only 10 percent of these students earn a bachelor’s degree six years out from high school.
Louisiana College has already been servicing these students through its Student Success Center and Bridge Program and, according to Brewer, this partnership will help to build on the school’s success.
“The Student Success Center provides assistance through our writing and tutoring center,” said JoLynn McConley, director of the center. “The SSC follows students through their college experience offering support as they navigate successfully. SSC realizes there will be challenges along the way, which are viewed as opportunities for growth.”
Four years ago, the summer bridge program was created to help students “bridge” the math and English gap between high school and college. Students in need of remedial math and English based on their ACT scores can come to LC in the summer and participate in a five-week, intensive course, according to Lillian Purdy, professor of English and coordinator of academic advising.
During the program, the students also take a study skills course that will help them with time management, note taking, preparing for tests, and other needed skills.
When students successfully complete the summer program, they can move right in to English 101 and College Algebra or Finite Math in the fall semester. There are some high school GPA and ACT scores admission requirements, but eligible students can jump start their college career with these developmental courses.
In the fall and spring semesters, the bridge program continues. Students who did not attend Summer Bridge but meet admission requirements and need remedial math or English can take those classes in their first semester, Purdy said. These students also will take study skills.
“The Summer Bridge Program is an excellent opportunity for students who need developmental courses to come to campus and take the classes,” Purdy said. “The classes are small, and tutoring help is provided. The students can live on campus and eat in the cafeteria. In the short five-week program, they can get a glimpse of college life, even as they get to know classmates, instructors, and staff. By the time the fall semester begins, they are already Wildcats!”
The partnership with Strive for College adds to the opportunities available for first-gen and all students at LC as well as educators.
For college partners, there is a learning community where colleagues can share best-practices and model successful programs for recruiting and retaining first-generation college students. For students, Strive’s online mentoring program connects aspiring college students with dedicated mentors to receive one-on-one guidance and support through the college admissions and financial aid application process.
Strive’s custom-built technology platform has communications features like video chat and data-powered college matching tools to help students discover and connect with colleges like Louisiana College. LC is also helping to mobilize mentors from its campus community and alumni network to assist students.
“The alarming dropout rate among first-gen college students illustrates the importance of programs that promote better college opportunities for these students,” said Strive for College founder and CEO Michael J. Carter. “Alongside schools like Louisiana College we aim to change this trend.”
Louisiana College is featured in Strive’s I’m First! Guide to College, the only comprehensive college guidebook for first-generation college-bound students, and participates in the ImFirst.org website featuring student videos stories, blogs and advice from and for first-generation college students.