One Small Liberal Arts College is Showing The World How Higher Education Should Evolve

By Richard Barth
Image of Lycoming College

It is hard to recall a time in my life filled with more cynicism than the one we are in today. If you want to believe that as a country, we can’t do better, stop reading now. Because I want to tell you a pretty cool story that reminds us that individuals and institutions can do good.

I’m the CEO of KIPP Schools. Today, KIPP has 242 schools and every day, over 100,000 students walk through our doors.  Just under 90% of our students are eligible for free and reduced lunch.  More than 15,000 KIPP alumni are currently in college, and KIPP alumni graduate from college at higher rates than the United States general population.

We’ve also come to see that getting to college is not the same as getting through college.  So, over the past decade, we have developed over 90 college partners working to create a stronger pathway to completion for first-generation college-goers.  Today, a third of KIPP high school seniors will enroll at one of these partners.  We are still in the early days of this work, but some great examples of what can be different are already emerging.

Here’s one story of a private liberal arts college that’s worth sharing. Lycoming College is a small, liberal arts college in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  The institution’s origins date back to 1812, and it began awarding B.A. and B.S degrees in the middle of the twentieth century.  Lycoming has educated young people with limited financial resources for years.  Historically, about 30% of Lycoming’s students have been Pell Grant eligible.  Most of those students were from small towns in Pennsylvania and New York State.  It has a history as an engine of social mobility.

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