After two years of collaborating with College Possible Philadelphia at the Explore partner level, Millersville University decided to expand its relationship and become a Bridge partner in the summer of 2018. Katy Charles, director of undergraduate admissions, commented on the new level of partnership: “Millersville aims to admit and enroll students who will bring a diverse mix of talent, experience and perspectives to our campus community. College Possible Philadelphia helps us to reach students who will do just that.” As a result, Millersville has been able to provide additional resources to College Possible students, such as transportation to campus and sessions for students and coaches about opportunities at the university.
As one of 14 universities that make up Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), Millersville prides itself on providing students with high-quality educational opportunities that are both accessible and affordable. However, maintaining the integrity of Millersville’s mission is becoming increasingly difficult to fulfill. “Across many public institutions of higher education, as operating costs increase and state appropriations decrease, the mission becomes more and more challenging,” explained Charles.
Despite rising costs, Millersville is committed to making accessibility a priority for applicants. Admissions staff like Charles recognize first-generation and students from low-income backgrounds are faced with a unique set of challenges that can hinder the college process. “When students do not have access to people or resources to help guide them through the process, steps to get from application to enrollment turn into barriers,” Charles said.
Reducing said barriers has been a priority for Millersville and it has put forward several initiatives to assist underserved students. These initiatives include instant decision programs that provide students with a free application and an on-site admissions decision, bus visits and programming at the campus and forming partnerships with programs like College Possible.
Millersville’s commitment to reducing barriers does not stop at the admissions process. When a student enrolls into Millersville, the university focuses on providing that student with the tools and resources needed to be successful. “We are proud of our Millersville Scholars Program, which provides opportunities for engagement, academic enrichment and a variety of support services to cohorts of students who show academic potential, but are first-generation or from underserved backgrounds,” said Charles. Participants in the Scholars Program receive support through graduation.
The culture of Millersville and their programs aimed at reducing barriers for students from first-generation and low-income backgrounds makes the university a valuable partner. Through this strengthened partnership, College Possible and Millersville look forward to working together to close the degree divide and produce more college graduates.
By Ian Reitz