When a school acts like an educational institution
While wending my way through college and graduate school I attended five schools.
Of those five I have been most impressed by the efforts of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to offer education to a range of people who might not otherwise be able to get a college degree.
The Carolina Covenant allows students with low financial backing the opportunity to graduate debt free from the university. Any student who earns admission will be considered for the covenant by filling out the standard financial aid application. At application for admission all financial information is separated from the rest of the forms. People who make the decisions about acceptance do not have access to applicants’ financial status. The support continues for all four years as long as students remain in good standing academically. Carolina reports they were the first university to offer this kind of assistance.
The assistance can make a great difference. Based on national numbers for 2012 graduates the average student loan debt acquired was $29,400 for borrowers and 71% of graduates took out loans. If education is supposed offer an opportunity for people in the lower section of the economic spectrum to improve their economic status, programs like the Carolina Covenant need to be developed to include people who can not afford a college education.
A program about to start is called Complete Carolina. Under this program scholarship athletes who left school before their degree was completed can return to the school at any time and receive the financial terms they had with their scholarship. Enhanced academic advising and career counseling will also be provided. Indiana University and the University of Southern California are developing similar programs. Other schools are expected to follow.
This program could be of tremendous benefit.
According to Richard Southell, associate professor of sport management at the University of North Carolina, the rosy numbers sometimes presented of increased graduation numbers for student-athletes are misleading. Comparing full-time male students to full-time male student-athletes, Division I basketball players’ graduation rates lagged behind their peers by 20.6%; football players’ rates lagged their peers by 19.7%. Women basketball players’ rates lagged their peers by 9.4%.
Doctor Southell also pointed out that when all male student-athletes are combined for statistical analyses, the graduation rates for students playing golf, lacrosse and soccer are much higher than rates for students playing basketball and football.
Major sports generate income and, interestingly, more applications for undergraduate admissions.
There are debates about whether or not universities take undue advantage of athletes. Programs like Complete Carolina reflect an effort by schools to address the student needs of student-athletes. What do you think of programs like this?