“When we talk about college access, we are talking about access to a college degree. Whether or not a student graduates from college is just as important to us as whether or not they enroll in higher education in the first place.”
– Vanessa Snow, Student Bridges Undergraduate Coordinator
From birth to college graduation, numerous obstacles confront many low-income, first generation and students of color who hope to access a college degree. These barriers include:
- Issues of affordability
- Issues of academic preparation, which often stem from inequity in K-12 education
- Issues of social capital and parental support
- Issues of transportation and child care
- And many more…
Student Bridges merges the energy and resources of UMass students and local communities to address these barriers, yet these barriers cannot be resolved through Student Bridges’ efforts alone. We must enhance and expand programs, policies and partnerships that support college affordability and access at a federal, state, regional, and University-wide level.
Student Bridges incorporates a range of advocacy activities, including:
- Developing materials that advocate for polices and practices that enhance college access for underrepresented students. In the spring of 2007, we compiled a report on “Access and Outreach at UMass Amherst” that inventories UMass Amherst’s current college access activities, and a short film about UMass Amherst students’ struggles to afford their college degree.
- Collaborating with other advocacy bodies and coalitions, including the UMass Amherst Student Government Association , the United States Student Association , and the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts .
- Providing trainings and leadership development opportunities for community members, youth and UMass students to strengthen their research, policy evaluation, grassroots organizing, and advocacy skills.