How can we ensure higher ed access and success for young people impacted by systemic inequities? At this virtual gathering, AYPF engaged with staff from 2 and 4-year postsecondary educational institutions to create a new learning community focused on that very question. As experts in the field, participants shared successes and challenges and brainstormed ideas to advance equity.
The group is focused on the population of young people who include:
- First generation college students
- Young people of color
- Those with involvement in the child welfare or youth legal systems
- Young people with disabilities
- Others who are not adequately reflected in the U.S. higher education system.
Participants emphasized that systems cause barriers to access and success in postsecondary education, and that—while there are successes they shared—much is left to be done to better serve young people impacted by systemic inequities and their families.
This work is taking place on the institutional level, as well as on the county, state, and federal levels. Some insights that participants shared are reflected below:
- Effective programs must incorporate wraparound supports that include financial assistance, academic advisors, mental health counselors, assistance with tangible needs, and support groups.
- Institutions can provide a stronger sense of belonging and connection for students by employing faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds, similar to our targeted youth population (described above).
- The FAFSA helps create pathways for our young people to access college, but the process should be simpler, and the requirements need to be less stringent.
- Incorporating families into programs and services can boost student success.
- By developing strong relationships with 4-year institutions, community colleges can efficiently assist those students interested in transferring.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our first CAS Salon! We look forward to staying connected in this learning community as well as bringing others interested in college access and success into future discussions as well.
AYPF wants to explore more about how we can support the work of those helping youth access and succeed in college and plans to hold additional conversations on the topic in the coming weeks and months. To be added to the community attending these events, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.