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New degree program aims to promote college accessibility


Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Although college enrollment has never been higher, some students remain unable to attend college due to financial limitations and other factors. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, a collaboration between Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has created a program that will make a college education more accessible to underserved students.

Opening doors
Portmont College was developed by the two organizations to offer students who demonstrate academic potential, but are unable to pursue higher education for a variety of reasons, a low-cost way to earn an associate's degree. Individuals who may benefit from the program include students with average SAT scores, individuals who may have difficulty paying for college, people who do not speak English as a first language and working adults. The program will be delivered in a hybrid format, with classes taking place both on-campus and online.

Applicants to the program will be required to complete an introductory online class known as "Launch Pad," which will allow course administrators to evaluate a student's academic potential through a series of cognitive assessments. Students will receive personalized feedback from instructors, identifying their strengths and suggesting ways in which they can improve in other areas.

"We all talk about the American dream, a fair shot for all," Srikant Vasan, founder and president of Portmont College, told the news source. "This is one way to bridge the achievement gap."

Changing attitudes
The landscape of higher education is vastly different today than it was even 20 years ago. Continuing economic struggles, the demands of the modern workplace and increased competition for both college admission and subsequent jobs, mean that modern students now face many challenges unknown to prior generations. As a result, some say that colleges and universities need to adapt to meet the needs of the 21st-century student, and address the barriers that prohibit many people from attending college.

"Many students are consistently in motion, going from work during the day, to campus for class at night and then a commute back home for studying," Debra Townsley, president of William Peace University, a liberal arts college in North Carolina, wrote in a blog post for The Huffington Post. "Online courses are another avenue to increase the accessibility of higher education to adult learners, and they appeal greatly to students seeking a self-driven learning experience or those who have variable working schedules, such as jobs with rotating shifts."ADNFCR-16000756-ID-800891474-ADNFCR

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