Education: the great equalizer

Chico State’s chief on the importance of higher education for students of diverse backgrounds

The author is Chico State’s president.

When I’m asked here in the North State why college is so important, I remind people that higher education is the great equalizer; it provides students of all socioeconomic backgrounds the opportunity to climb up the ladder and pursue career opportunities that will provide a lifetime of achievement and success.

At Chico State, where more than half of our students will be the first in their families to earn a four-year degree, we take the charge very seriously.

Through our Educational Opportunity Program, for instance, first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students work alongside academic counselors so they can transform their lives through academic achievement and personal growth. The program’s individualized academic counseling, comprehensive support services and extensive campus referral network help students develop their talents while empowering them to achieve.

We also offer a comprehensive network program to support current and former foster youth, as well as unaccompanied homeless youth. Promoting Achievement Through Hope (PATH) Scholars offers services including more personalized financial aid, counseling, advising and tutoring services as well as connecting students with resources on campus and in the community. We’re proud to partner with Butte College and Shasta College in our effort to facilitate a smoother transition for former foster youth from these community colleges.

While it is critical to recruit and retain regional college students, we don’t stop there at extending higher-education opportunities to youth in our region. Low-income, first-generation junior high and high school students can also participate in programs such as Educational Talent Search that prepare them for success in postsecondary education. High school students in our region can also participate in MESA Schools Program, an academic preparation and math/science enrichment program that partners with schools to provide educationally disadvantaged students with a variety of innovative services and opportunities.

I hope that all students throughout the North State raise their sights by attending college, whether at Chico State or one of our excellent regional community colleges. Together, we can uplift their lives, their families and our communities through the power of education.