Written by Alyssa Walker

This month, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) launched a major initiative designed to improve college access, close achievement gaps, and increase the number of undergraduate degrees awarded.

In a recent article in Forbes, Michael T. Nietzel, a former university president, details this ambitious plan called Powered By Publics: Scaling Student Success.

The project is a national collaboration among 130 public schools committed to doing better.

Why now? Graduation rates are stagnating and the six-year graduation rate for full-time, first-time undergraduates starting in 2010 was 60 percent, only one percent higher than five years ago. The rate is lower for part-time students, and there continue to be large completion gaps among black and Hispanic students, Pell grant recipients, and first-generation college students.

With financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the project will span five years, which will give institutions time to plan, innovate, share, and evaluate their results.

The goals are the award of hundreds of thousands more bachelor's degrees by 2025; to eliminate achievement gaps among low-income, minority, and first-generation students; and to discover best practices to improve success.

How will it work? Each institution will create a campus team to develop, implement, and evaluate student interventions. They will then use and share their data to monitor student performance. They will use this data to make decisions about future strategy.

Institutions will also place a stronger emphasis on career advising, especially in the early years of students' college life.

Nietzel suggests these colleges will reconsider what college success looks like and define it by more than just receiving a degree. He hopes it will enhance student learning, too.


Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.
By Alyssa Walker
January 28, 2019

A new report finds that community college students flourish at elite schools -- they just have to get admitted first. Let's take a closer look.

By Alyssa Walker
January 21, 2019

Good news for Massachusetts students of public higher education: a Democratic state representative from Berkshire County is sponsoring a bill that wil...

By Joanna Hughes
January 15, 2019

After visiting a university laboratory in Bristol, Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore expressed high hopes for work being done there wit...