Krislov Joins White House in Expanding Access to Higher Education

Madeline Peltz

College President Marvin Krislov traveled to Washington, D.C. last month to attend the White House’s summit on expanding opportunities for low-income students in higher education. In order to attend, each president submitted formal commitments to the White House detailing their plans to improve economic accessibility for all students.

The event included panels and speeches from experts on higher education, such as Sal Khan of Khan Academy, as well as rising stars in the political sphere, such as Mayor Julián Castro of San Antonio.

At the summit, President Obama issued a call to action in which he delineated his plan to increase accessibility.

“We don’t want these to be the exceptions. We want these to be the rule,” said President Obama in his speech at the summit.

Oberlin’s plan addresses four major barriers facing low-income high school students on their way to college, including connecting more students with institutions in which they can be challenged and succeed, increasing the college application pool by promoting awareness of the process earlier in education, reducing inequalities in the college advising system, and expanding remedial education programs across colleges and universities.

Krislov expressed great enthusiasm for the goals of the summit. “[Obama was] a leader in access from the very beginning,” he said. Krislov went on to state that he had several goals upon entering the summit. “[I wanted to] find out what the latest techniques and opportunities were [by] connecting with people who are doing interesting thing that we might learn from,” said Krislov.

New non-profit founder, Nicole Hurd, one of the summit’s panelists piqued Krislov’s interest. Hurd’s organization, the National College Advising Core, combats inequality in the college advising system by placing recent college graduates into urban high schools with sparse resources. The program hopes to help high school students navigate the complex maze of requirements and resources that come with college applications.

The summit also exposed President Krislov to an array of approaches regarding expanding accessibility, but the central example of Oberlin’s engagement in economic accessibility is the College’s commitment to partner with the brand new non-profit, Raise Labs.

Supported in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Raise Labs provides high school students with microscholarships, a scholarship that, administered through a credit system, allocates small amounts of money toward the recipients’ college tuition as they continue to succeed academically.

Dean of Admissions, Debra Chermonte, who heads the partnership, said, “We are excited about Oberlin’s partnership with Raise Labs and see this as an innovative way to motivate and inspire ambitious students throughout high school. Tying micro-scholarships to academic achievement, community service, leadership and other special achievements while elevating the attributes of each partner college is a genius idea.”

In addition to the administration’s commitment to a partnership with Raise Labs, the student demands presented to the College’s Board of Trustees earlier this year included a proposal for a scholarship fund specifically designated for undocumented students who wish to attend Oberlin.

“[The fund is important] because it provides assistance for students who should be able to join our community and not have to bear a punishment based on the circumstance they were born into,” said Student Senator and College Sophomore Ziya Smallens.

While President Krislov might not share the same radical fervor as some members of the student body, he also expressed belief in this idea.

“We’ve been supportive of that, we’ve met with students and they’ve met with our development officer and we’re actually very interested in establishing it. I myself have contributed to it, as have some others,” Krislov said.