Continuing its mission to inspire exceptional, underserved high school students to consider pursuing a higher education, Franklin & Marshall College has invited 200 high-achieving students from 15 rural Pennsylvania high schools to the third annual F&M College Summit Feb. 25.
The students, most of whom would be the first in their families to attend college, will tour the campus, meet undergraduates and faculty, learn about major fields of study, and eat lunch in the dining hall.
"We're trying to make an abstract idea -- a college education -- real for them," said Robert Freund, program director of Pennsylvania College Advising Corps (PCAC). "We want to start the conversation now, to get these students to look at a variety of schools and help them find the best fit."
In the afternoon, F&M's admission and financial aid officers will give the students an overview of the college-application and financial-aid processes. F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield will speak to the group about the educational opportunities available to them and how important it is to choose an institution that will help them grow intellectually and personally.
"For many of these high school juniors, this visit to F&M will be the first time they have been on a college campus," said Rachel Proulx, PCAC's assistant director. She and PCAC Assistant Director Jessica Fegely '10 are co-organizing the summit. "The students will take part in an introduction to the college experience and have the opportunity explore their own ideas about post-secondary education."
As one of PCAC's 10 college advisers, four of whom are F&M graduates, Molly Thompson '13 works with aspiring college-going students at Mount Union and Juniata Valley high schools in Huntingdon County.
"I can't wait to bring 12 of the most extraordinary, talented, mature, curious students I have the pleasure of working with to my alma mater," Thompson said. "These are the type of students that are made for a liberal arts education -- they are excited about learning and, furthermore, they are excited about sharing what they learn with others."
The evolving economy is demanding a workforce of college-educated workers. The national and state goal is to reach 60 percent by 2025, according to the Lumina Foundation, an organization that advocates expanding student access. Pennsylvania has much work to do, Freund said. Only 38.6 percent of its 6.7 million working adults have a two- or four-year degree.
PCAC started at F&M six years ago as the National College Advising Corps-Keystone Region, (NCAC-KR) and has since changed its title. It debuted the daylong student visit to the F&M campus three years ago. NCAC is now known as the College Advising Corps (CAC).
CAC works to increase the college enrollment and graduation of low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students. PCAC, led by Franklin & Marshall College, also draws college advisors from Dickinson and Gettysburg colleges and Millersville University and falls under the CAC umbrella.
Since 2009, F&M has worked to increase enrollment of Pell Grant recipients— students from the lowest quartile of American family incomes—from 5 percent in 2008 to 17 percent this year. As part of this effort, the College launched F&M College Prep, an immersion program for talented high-school juniors that runs for three weeks in the summer and includes a number of students served by PCAC.
The Posse Foundation, one of F&M’s valued partners, and other college preparatory organizations have lauded both College Prep and College Summit. National newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor recently noted the success F&M's programs have had in reaching high-achieving, low-income and first-generation college students.