In her last months in office, President Tilghman is leading a University committee that is examining ways to help low-income students overcome obstacles that keep them from attending selective colleges.
The Trustee Ad Hoc Committee on College Access, announced Jan. 7, will study factors besides financial means that impede talented low-income students.
“While the financial-aid enhancements at Princeton and many of our peer institutions have lowered the financial obstacles for our low-income students, other factors have come to the fore as powerful barriers to access, such as inadequate college counseling about the range of college options, culturally constrained aspirations, and inadequate academic preparation,” Tilghman said.
During her tenure, Tilghman has created several committees to advise her on various issues, but this is the first time she has served as chairwoman. “As the evidence for the growing inequality in the United States and worldwide has been building, I felt strongly that we should be asking ourselves whether we are doing enough to ensure that more students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds have access to high-quality education,” she told PAW.
She described the group as a “blue-sky” committee in which “everything is on the table.” That might include considering expanding the student body to make more spots for low-income students, examining the University’s no-transfer policy, and even the creation of a preparatory school similar to West Point Prep, which offers high-school graduates a one-year academic program that prepares them for college, she said.
Serving on the committee are several members of the board of trustees, including Ruth Simmons, the former Brown University president. Alumni participating who are not on the board are Katherine Brittain Bradley ’86, John Fisher ’83, and Jonathan Schnur ’89, chosen for their backgrounds in education. Andrew Blumenfeld ’13, elected to a local school board in California, also was selected.
A second working group will look at ways in which students from socioeconomically diverse backgrounds experience — and may be left out of — academic and extracurricular life at the University.