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UCD to boost efforts to assist low-income students

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks during an Expanding College Opportunity event on Thursday in Washington, D.C. AP photo

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From page A1 | January 17, 2014 | Leave Comment

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi on Thursday announced the expansion of programs that assist low-income and community college transfer students.

UCD’s four-week Special Transitional Enrichment Program will add 50 students this year, up from about 185, while the campus’ Transfer Opportunity Program will expand to work with 35 community colleges, up from 21.

Katehi’s announcement on her blog coincided with a White House summit on expanding opportunity for low-income students.

UCD’s new commitments joined a long list of promises by dozens of other colleges and universities across the country, including all three of California’s public higher education segments.

“As a public university, UC Davis holds a special responsibility to make our world-class education accessible and affordable to all students,” Katehi wrote. ”As chancellor, I consider this my highest priority, which is why I am so pleased that today the Obama administration announced a plan of action for increasing college access and success for low-income and disadvantaged students.”

At UCD:

* STEP is aimed at first-generation students from low-income families. During the summer, it provides one week of orientation, advising, registration and placement testing, followed by three weeks of classes in writing, mathematics, study skills and problem solving. Pre-law, chemistry and physics classes are also available, according to the UCD website.

Students in the program live in residence halls, take part in evening programs on campus issues and enjoy social activities, like a barbecue and a talent show.

* TOP aims to smooth the transition into UCD’s academic programs for community college students, with the goal of increasing their chances of success.

As part of the program, UCD undergraduate admissions staff regularly visit participating colleges to provide counseling to students and parents. Topics include major preparation, financial aid and housing.

Students who take part also receive transcript evaluations, seminars on academic and career opportunities and guided tours of the Davis campus, according to the UCD website.

Katehi also highlighted some UCD’s other efforts to aid students:

* The Aggie Grant Plan, first announced in April, awards about $3,000 annually to students whose family incomes fall between $80,000 and $120,000. It builds on the UC systemwide Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, which covers base tuition and fees for students whose families earn up to $80,000 annually.

* A total of $135 million raised during the ongoing Campaign for UC Davis, or about 1,500 fellowships and scholarships.

* The new Central Valley Scholars Program, a new four-year scholarship, mentorship and internship program pairing Central Valley businesses with undergraduate students and the campus’ Internship and Career Center. Its goal: provide students with financial assurances and hands-on experience and help businesses draw and retain educated workers.

* The Linda Frances Alexander Scholars Program, which provides individual academic and career advising and support, mentoring, quarterly seminars, weekend check-ins with staff, referrals to campus and community services and social activities for African, African-American and multi-racial students.

Katehi’s announcement comes just days after Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal, which dangles a $50 million “innovation grant” carrot for campuses that find ways to improve time to graduation and graduation rates.

Among the other promises made to the White House by California universities:

* UC promised to work with the California State University system and California Community Colleges to improve the transfer system and take steps to improve the success of transfer students; improve outreach both by the UC system and its individual campuses; and partner with the College Board, makers of the PSAT, to reach out to students who do well on the exam but who often fail to take the other steps necessary to prepare themselves for college.

* The community college system committed to using priority registration as a way to incentivize students to complete orientation, to complete an assessment for placement and to prepare an education plan; establishing systemwide and college-level goals for closing achievement gaps for students of color and improve completion rates for remedial math, English and English as a second language; creating a common assessment to help provide better placement for incoming students; and helping individual colleges increase the pace of remedial education reforms.

* The California State University system pledged to spend $8 million to hire 70 more student advisers and add “e-advising” so students can receive real-time advice; put $8 million into expanding its Early Start program to help incoming freshmen attain readiness in math and English; and spend $12 million to expand service learning, undergraduate participation in research, study abroad and first-year learning communities.

CSU also said it would attempt to improve degree completion for community college transfer students with a number of initiatives, including admissions preference and clear pathways in its 25 most popular majors.

— Reach Cory Golden at cgolden@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
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