Stories I Love to See: A pipeline from community college to the Ivy League

From, amazing success at the Community College of Philadelphia:

From 2005 to 2013, the college says, it sent 264 to the Ivy League – nearly all of them to Penn. Typically, three of every four CCP students finish their degrees at Penn, said Eric Furda, university dean of admissions.

It’s no easy path for these students, many of them adults with children, spouses, and jobs to juggle.

Just ask Christopher Thomas, 40, a Philadelphia father of three and CCP grad, who earned his Penn degree last year. The community college prepared him well, he said, but it took him a while to adjust to Penn’s heavy reading load.

“My GPA after the first semester was a 2.68,” he said.

He got the knack and graduated with a 3.37 on a four-point scale. Thomas, who works in health insurance, hopes to land a teaching job or something in social services or human services.

So are these things tracked formally? Do we know with some accuracy how many community college students go on to four year schools? (Some preliminary research suggests we do.) But do we also know how many go on to premier four year schools and how they do? What are the factors that get them there and help them to succeed? I have had many students over the years who clearly have the intellect to do great work at a top school, but what stands between them and such success?

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