Inquiry Magazine Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy

FAll 2014

In this issue: College Access

Northwestern Academy for Chicago Public Schools Student

The first class of 80 students began the Northwestern Academy for Chicago Public Schools, which prepares under-resourced Chicago students for top colleges. Summer activities included classes, museum visits, guest lectures and a scholars’ showcase.

Penelope Peterson

Message from the Dean

Dear Friends,

In this issue of Inquiry, we share with you our current efforts related to increasing access to college for low-income and underrepresented students. This past February, the Pew Research Center reported that Millennial college graduates ages 25 through 32 who are working full time earn more annually—about $17,500 more—than employed young adults holding only a high school diploma. This pay gap is significantly larger than in previous generations. Pew also found that about nine in 10 graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree say that college has already paid off (72 percent) or will pay off in the future (17 percent). The question thus becomes, “How might we develop the pipeline to ensure that all students are prepared for and have access to a good college education, especially those who lack resources?”

As a complement to Northwestern’s Good Neighbor, Great University scholarship program for low-income students, our School is expanding college access through several innovative initiatives:

  • Northwestern Academy for Chicago Public Schools
  • Project Excite
  • Graduate fellowships for teachers who will teach in urban schools
  • Center for Talent Development scholarships for low-income students
  • Out-of school programs

We describe these first two programs in our lead article. In the second article, “Building the Mindset and Means for College,” professors Kirabo Jackson and Mesmin Destin discuss implications of their research findings for improving college access for talented, low-income students. In the article on “college coaching,” professor Jim Rosenbaum discusses the promising results from his evaluation of the college coaching program in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and tells why it works.

As a CPS high school graduate himself, current SESP undergraduate Peter Podlipni (page 17) provides a case example by describing how he traversed the path from urban school graduate to college at a selective university by becoming involved with the highly competitive Questbridge National College Match Program. Northwestern has one of the largest groups of Quest scholars of any elite university. This past spring two SESP students in the Northwestern Quest Scholars Network organized Money Matters Week to bring to light the issues that low-income students face in applying to college and then succeeding at selective colleges and universities.

Please consider joining us in our efforts to improve college access for low-income students by making a gift to the above-mentioned K-12 College Access programs as part of “We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern.” You can donate easily at

We hope to see many of you back on campus for Homecoming, Parents’ Weekend and football games this fall. Please stop by Annenberg Hall and say hi.

Penelope Signature
Penelope L. Peterson, Dean