Amherst Magazine

College Row
Students on steps
A grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation will allow Amherst to better identify and enroll talented community college students (like these students at Holyoke Community College) interested in completing their education at a selective four-year college.

New community college connections

Amherst’s efforts to identify and enroll the best college students in the world, regardless of background, received a major boost this spring, thanks to a grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. The $585,142 award—part of a larger, $6.78-million grant to eight partner institutions—will allow the college to more effectively reach out to high-achieving community college students interested in completing their undergraduate education at a selective institution.

Community college students aren’t new to Amherst, of course, but this grant will allow the college to more systematically identify and contact the best and brightest students in this growing group of prospective applicants. Over the next four years, the college plans to launch an integrated set of recruitment initiatives at all 15 community colleges in Massachusetts. (These initiatives were designed in collaboration with six community colleges, including three in the Pioneer Valley.) The Admission Office will appoint a new admission fellow to work exclusively with community college students. In addition, the Admission Office will recruit a group of current Amherst students who are community college alumni to serve in the college’s Telementoring Program, which connects Amherst students from low- and middle-income backgrounds with talented applicants from families with modest means.

“Our need-blind admission policy has always meant that highly motivated, highly qualified students could come to Amherst, even if they didn’t think they could afford it,” says Tom Parker, dean of admission and financial aid. “We’re finding new ways to reach out to the largest number of qualified students: we now can draw from a really amazing group of high achievers at the community colleges who are ready for Amherst.”

President Anthony W. Marx added, “America can’t afford to lose any qualified aspirants to a liberal arts education because they think places like Amherst are unaffordable. We’re grateful to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for helping Amherst to find these stars at community colleges, and we hope that other selective private colleges will see, at Amherst, what a rich, untapped resource they are.”

Amherst is one of just two liberal arts colleges—and one of just eight colleges and universities overall—chosen to participate in the program. Other participating colleges and universities are Mount Holyoke, Bucknell, Cornell University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Southern California.

Next: Danielle Allen joins Board of Trustees >>

Photo: Frank Ward