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Non-profit helps college students transfer to elite western Mass. schools to foster diversity

The gates of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.
File Photo
Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com
The gates of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

A Washington, D.C. non-profit is helping students of color and those from lower-income and first generation backgrounds transfer from community colleges to selective four-year institutions in western Massachusetts. This comes as the Supreme Court prepares to release decisionsthat could end affirmative action.

The Aspen Institute's Transfer Scholars Network works with 14 community colleges, including Holyoke Community College.

Adam Rabinowitz, who is with the institute, said the community colleges "nominate high-achieving students with full financial need and those that have demonstrated success both in the classroom and beyond the classroom."

He said the focus is on making sure those students are aware of a variety of four-year schools "... ensuring that those students see schools like Amherst, Williams, Mount Holyoke [and] Smith as viable transfer destinations and increasing the pipeline to get to those schools," he said.

Rabinowitz said the selected students then "identify the schools that they're interested in and a four-year partner reaches out to them — a senior admissions leader usually —and provides dedicated personalized support and kinds of walks through the various steps to lead to the ultimate application process and sets that student up to be competitive as possible."

Since the program started in 2021, seven students have enrolled at Mount Holyoke, Williams, Amherst, and Smith. There are additional four-year partners in eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine.

Decisions from the Supreme Court on affirmative action are expected later this week.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.
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