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Investing in a diversifying student body

Commencement 2016 Photo

As the socioeconomic and racial demographics of college applicants shift, colleges and universities are challenged to find ways to recruit, retain and graduate a diversifying student body. Luther College is one institution that is taking action to improve these outcomes on their campus. This fall, the college will become the first institution to join College Possible as both a Bridge Partner and a Catalyze Partner.

“For Luther, this was a logical step,” said Lisa Scott, interim dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion at Luther College. “These partnerships serve to enhance an institutional priority regarding engagement and persistence of first in family students, low-income students and students of color. Increasing enrollments of this student demographic is also a priority.”

Jillian Hiscock, national partnerships manager at College Possible is excited about Luther College’s intentional approach for integrating access and success initiatives.

“By investing in both of our partnership models, Luther will be able to access the full scope of work being done by College Possible, which will create a more inclusive, supportive environment on campus for all students,” Hiscock said.

Each partnership has distinct benefits for Luther College. As a National Bridge partner, college staff will work closely with all six College Possible high school program sites to provide more than 5,000 low-income students with information about the educational, social and financial opportunities available at Luther.

“Personally, my goal is to have students from every College Possible site apply to Luther, but the college’s main objective is to increase the number of first-generation and underrepresented students who are applying and enrolling in colleges,” said Josue Silva, the coordinator for diversity recruitment at Luther College. “We want students to feel empowered and confident that they can thrive at schools like Luther College.”

The Catalyze partnership will complement these recruitment initiatives by equipping students with on-campus coaches to guide and support them on the path to graduation.

“We are excited to implement the ‘near-peer’ coaching model along with an innovative curriculum that will serve as the foundation for student success for participants in the class of 2022 and beyond,” Scott said. “The Catalyze partnership provides an opportunity to assess and strengthen our retention infrastructure in support of student engagement and success.”

Beyond numbers, Luther College staff members believe these partnerships will enhance student experiences.

“Our partnership with College Possible will provide more awareness that Luther College is a leader in making higher education more accessible,” Silva said. “More importantly, underrepresented students will begin to see Luther College as an institution that supports every person who sets foot on campus.”


Photo courtesy of Luther College

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