January 12, 2009WVU Parkersburg joins College Board's CollegeKeys Compact; pledges to assist first-generation college students from low-income families.CONTACT: WVU Parkersburg President Marie Foster Gnage, 304-424-8200.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
West Virginia University at Parkersburg has become a member of the College Board's CollegeKeys Compact to support students from low-income families as they pursue a college education.
WVU Parkersburg is one of more than 500 institutions to join the program and pledge to ease the multiple obstacles facing students from low-income backgrounds.
As part of the CollegeKeys initiative, WVU Parkersburg has entered into a contract with the College Board to actively pursue ways and dedicate resources to help students pursue and excel in college. The initiative proposes a number of possible activities, including creating partnerships to provide more mentors for students; helping administrators, counselors and faculty understand the challenges faced by students who are the first in their families to go to college or who are from low-income families, and providing additional tutoring and supplemental instruction as well as culturally relevant programs to students.
"We are pleased to be a part of this nationwide partnership," noted WVU Parkersburg President Marie Foster Gnage.
"Many individuals are geographically place-bound and represent their families' first generation to pursue higher education opportunities," she added. "We are committed to addressing the challenges faced by current and prospective students and remove access barriers which make it difficult for students to achieve their goals."
President Gnage said the college’s strategic actions include the expansion of outreach programs (summer academies for high school students and adults, jumpstart programs, early admission and transition programs, etc.) to focus more strategically on individuals with economic challenges and encourage their college attendance.
WVU Parkersburg will continue to design non-credit courses and programs for workforce training that provide maximum access to working students and meet financial aid eligibility requirements when possible, she noted.
"Adding WVU Parkersburg to the CollegeKeys Compact roster is significant for this initiative," said Ronald Williams, the College Board vice president who is coordinating its implementation.
"When asked, 90 percent of high school students express the desire to attend college," he noted. "Yet, for many low-income students, that dream is not achievable because they lack the means to attend college. We must do all we can to ensure these students are provided the access they desire and deserve."
The Compact is the result of a national report by a College Board Trustees task force which found that nearly one-half of all college-qualified low- and moderate-income high school graduates do not enroll in a four-year college program because of a combination of poor preparation, low expectations and financial barriers. The report points to an array of obstacles blocking low-income students from access to college and then from success once they are enrolled. In addition, the report noted, students face challenges in getting the aid necessary to fund their education.
The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. The Washington, D.C.-based association is composed of more than 5,400 schools, colleges, universities and other education organizations.