Program to assess ways to improve graduation rates for low-income students

Breyanna Tripp

Kent State will bring area high-school students to campus Thursday for its See You @ College program , a one-day conference that will explore ways to increase college enrollment and graduation for low-income, first-generation students.  

See You @ College: Northeast Ohio Pathways to Success is a long-term project that engages community leaders and organizations to become involved in guiding and assisting first-generation families and their students in finding more pathways to a college education.

“We truly believe if we rely on our community resources, and we ask people to do sort of an informal mentoring of making sure they understand some of the things that a first-generation student might need to get into college, we will help more students find their way to college,” said Iris Harvey, vice president of university media relations.

 Half of low-income high school students enroll in college compared with 80 percent of students from high-income families who enroll in college, according to the National Center of Educational Statistics.

About 40 percent of students on Kent’s main campus and 54 percent of students at its regional campuses are the first in their family to attend college, Harvey said at a Board of Trustees meeting in December when the program was announced.

If Ohio is to stay competitive in the global market, then the state must increase its total number of graduates by at least 56 percent by 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Harvey said the conference is not just a way to increase college enrollment at Kent State but a community effort to increase enrollment for all postsecondary schools including but not limited to community colleges, technical schools and public and private colleges.

Sophomore fashion merchandising major Hellen Tecle believes there is a lot of pressure for a first-generation college students.

“Parents don’t understand how hard it is,” Tecle said. “The classes are not easy-breezy, and it’s a disappointment if I don’t graduate on time or at all.”

Contact Breyanna Tripp at [email protected].