Second Lady Jill Biden has been on the drive to re-design higher education as of late by attending community colleges around the country as well as making a keynote speech at the SXSWedu Conference in Austin, Texas. Santa Fe was one of those colleges in particular where students were helped by the college’s program to propel their education to such a level where they were able to transfer to universities such as the University of Florida.
Santa Fe was also ranked among the top 10 colleges nationwide, a ranking measured primarily on statistics such as graduation and transfer rates.
It was due to this success that Biden wanted to speak with both students and teachers at Santa Fe about their system and how to implement it in more community colleges nationwide:
“The type of innovative strategies and the use of innovative technology to improve student success that we are learning here today is really close to my heart,” Biden said during the discussion.
In the United States, around 40 percent of all undergraduate students are in attendance at a community college, and Biden says that less than half of those will graduate or end up transferring within six years. She hopes to reduce this in the coming years:
“We have a lot of work to do to increase retention, completion and overall student success,” Biden said.
Her speech at the SXSWedu conference also had the focus on higher education and its importance, where she met with students, educators, entrepreneurs and administrators from across the country. It was at this speech where she emphasized the role of higher education in the future of our economy, where many jobs will require at least a diploma to qualify:
“Helping more students go to college, stay in school and earn their diploma is vital to the future of our economy because by the end of the decade two out of three job openings will require some form of higher education,”
Current systems in place include raising the Pell Grant, which includes a $2 billion workforce plan to “strengthen partnerships between schools and employers,” as well as President Obama’s goal to make community college free for everyone.
Another recent proposal is Obama’s “Student Aid Bill of Rights” which was signed weeks ago and promotes more transparency between the companies that provide student loans and the students themselves. Companies that fail to provide adequate information about repayment plans or those who don’t help borrowers with their repayments may be added to a complaint website created by the Department of Education to alert other borrowers.
These systems combined with better transfer rates from community colleges aim to provide students with a better pathway to higher learning regardless of background or financial position.