Princeton University Aims to Make the Campus More Welcoming to Low-Income Students

ValSmithA working group on undergraduate socioeconomic diversity at Princeton University in New Jersey has issued a broad set of recommendations designed to improve academic achievement and create a more inclusive and supportive campus climate for the benefit of all undergraduates. The working group was led by Dean of the College Valerie Smith.

The working group found that Princeton’s generous financial aid programs have enabled students from all socioeconomic groups to participate fully in academic and residential life at Princeton. And students from families of all income levels report similar levels of satisfaction with the Princeton experience. However, the findings also showed that financial constraints can make some students from lower-income groups more likely to forego some activities and to feel less fully accepted on campus than higher-income students.

Among the working groups recommendations are:

* Create a named scholars program to nurture aspirations of high-achieving lower-income students through faculty mentoring, community building, and expansion of academic and professional opportunities.

* Offer summer versions of gateway STEM courses to create more pathways into STEM study.

* Form a standing committee of administrators charged with considering policies that affect the educational and social experiences of lower-income and first-generation students.

* Train faculty academic advisers and college staff, including residential college advisers, to better recognize and manage issues of socioeconomic diversity.

* Incorporate some sensitivity to socioeconomic diversity in residential housing assignments.

* Revise existing and create new online resources for families of lower-income and first-generation students.

Dean Smith concludes that ” we need to do everything we can to embrace the opportunities an increasingly socioeconomically diverse community presents to enhance the quality of the education we provide and the richness of the experience for all who study and work on this campus.”


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