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Supporting College Student Access and Success: Making Sure Hard Work Pays Off

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By: Audrey Dow, Senior Vice President, The Campaign for College Opportunity

This blog is an excerpt from the panel on “Supporting College Student Access and Success” from the American Educational Research Association conference on January 17, 2017. Our Senior Vice President, Audrey Dow, gave remarks on policy opportunities that could help address college student access and success. Please click the video above to watch the entire remarks.


Good evening.

Thank you A.E.R.A. for having me tonight. It’s wonderful to be here with Dr. Long, Juana, James, and Adolfo.

I’m glad we’re having this conversation on college access and success here in California because in so many ways, California is what the rest of our country will look like in the future.

My remarks today will focus on the policy opportunities we have before us that can help address so many of the challenges laid out in Dr. Long’s lecture.

California’s Master Plan for Higher Education paved the way for our UC, CSU and community college systems which created a workforce that catapulted the state into becoming a world leader and ensured the type of innovation that we’re famous for (Silicon Valley, Silicon Beach, Apple, Disney) keeps the state as one of the largest economies in the world.

It’s the reason I’m sitting here today. My father, immigrated to this country at the age of 10 from Mexico. He’s the grandson and son of panaderos (bakers) but when he turned 18 he didn’t go into the family business, it wasn’t why my grandfather left his country. He came here for better opportunity for his son and somehow knew that education was likely the key. So, in the early 1970’s my dad enrolled in LA Trade Tech College, just down the street from here, which led to him earning a certificate in electrical engineering, an apprenticeship at American Bridge Steel Company, and a career that allowed him to own a home, have quality healthcare, save for retirement, put his two girls through college and have a little fun.

The Master plan was groundbreaking policy for its time, it fit the needs of that moment and served millions of students, including my father, and the state but that moment was over fifty years ago.

Our once model higher education system has fallen into mediocrity in college preparation, completion and affordability. In fact, California is projected to be 2.3 million college educated workers short of economic demand in just eight years.  California’s population has more than doubled in size and is more racially diverse and geographically spread out. Today, Latinos represent 40% of California’s population but only 11% of adult Latinos have Bachelor’s degrees. Half of all children are Latino in the state and most will be first-generation college goers– these are demographics that the original master plan never contemplated. Read More

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Press Statement: University of California will add 10,000 additional spots for California students by 2018

The Regents of the University of California (UC) approved the plan presented by President Janet Napolitano and will accept 10,000 more California students across the UC through 2018.  This will be funded with the $25 million allocated by the recent 2015-16 state budget and by phasing out the UC’s need-based aid for low-income students from other states.

Since 1994, the number of applicants from California students applying to the UC has more than doubled. Unfortunately, the UC has not kept pace with demand and students are finding it harder to get in. Insufficient state funding and increasing competition for too few college spots means increasingly well-qualified students are nonetheless turned away.  In response, the UC has significantly increased the enrollment of out-of-state and international students – which comes with big revenue benefits –  while the number of California students at the UC has remained flat.

Read full press statement >>