Patricia McGuire

Chapter 5

Embracing the Paradigm Shift

  • Patricia McGuire President, Trinity Washington University

Chapter Overview

What happens when an elite college starts accepting large numbers of low income students?

This question stalks around the edges of calls for greater college access for low income students to improve America's global collegiate competitiveness. More access sounds like a great idea, a moral purpose, a winning strategy --- but (a big BUT) also a great risk, a considerable financial challenge, and quite possibly a reputational disaster if the students do not persist and complete in the same way as other students.

Unfortunately, many elite colleges are reluctant to enroll large numbers of low income students because of the risk they pose for lower completion rates on the IPEDS timetable, a reputational risk with consequences for things like the U.S. News rankings. Embracing the paradigm shift means taking the risk that some observers just won’t understand that a lower graduation rate according to IPEDS might actually mean that the school is doing exactly the right thing, namely, enrolling more low income students who take longer to complete or who "swirl" through multiple schools.

In her Chapter, President McGuire describes how Trinity has embraced the paradigm shift, and provides a repeatable curriculum developed to help students surmount their critical challenges and become successful experts in their fields.

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