College Experience & Rural Excellence Gaps

Three young, professionally-dressed students sitting and talking at a table.

February 14, 2020 – Here’s what we’re reading this week about the issues affecting high-achieving students. Read about innovative initiatives to improve college experience and build connections to faculty. In K-12, geography brings challenges to AP access and success.

Do you know an academically talented 7th grader? Encourage them to apply for the Cooke Young Scholars Program, a selective pre-college scholarship that offers educational support to exceptionally promising students from across the nation. Cooke Young Scholars receive comprehensive advising and scholarship support from 8th grade until high school graduation. The application deadline is March 23, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. ET.

Receive the Cooke Chronicle each week in your inbox: Subscribe here.


Elementary & Secondary Education:

  • Education Dive states that while Advanced Placement (AP) participation and performance have grown “in tandem,” lack of access to the courses in rural areas remains an issue.
  • “Geography is often overlooked as a source of education gaps. Yet when it comes to AP participation, where students live is strongly correlated. Those residing in states with the lowest participation rates were about three times less likely to take AP exams than their counterparts in the top states,” writes Chester E. Finn, Jr. for The Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
  • Over the past decade, the number of students experiencing homelessness has nearly doubled. Education Week reports that 1.5 million students were homeless during the 2017-18 school year.


Higher Education:

  • A community college in the Chicago suburbs is starting a new campus-wide initiative called the “Persistence Project,” which encourages professors to have one-on-one meetings with students in the first three weeks of instruction. The Chronicle of Higher Education writes that the college hopes to keep more students enrolled by forming connections with professors.
  • Eight universities in California are piloting a program that will give students up to $10,000 towards college expenses if students participate in a semester’s worth of community service with a local nonprofit or government office. As Inside Higher Ed reports, “The Civic Action Fellowship” will help students tackle local issues, such as reducing homelessness, while also easing the cost of education for California students.
  • “Over the last two decades, public colleges have sharply increased the amount of merit aid they’ve offered — a strategy that comes at the expense of low-income and working-class students, a new study finds.” The Chronicle of Higher Education details the findings.


Cooke Foundation Highlights:

  • The Foundation announces that 68 current Cooke Young Scholars will continue to receive the organization’s comprehensive educational advising and financial support as Cooke College Scholars. “It’s been incredible to watch these scholars take ownership of their learning and prepare to engage and lead purposefully,” said Executive Director Seppy Basili.
  • Cooke Scholar Sirad Hassan is one of only 15 students who will compete in the Jeopardy! College Championship. Pop Culture reports that the championship episodes will begin airing in April.
  • New research led by Cooke Scholar Abdiasis Hussein explores how some mammals pause their pregnancies. UW Medicine explains the findings.
  • Local media outlets including The Waxahachie Daily Light, Kent Reporter, The Valley Advantage, and Nogales International highlight the achievements of Cooke College Scholar Semifinalists.


Social Media Spotlight:


Photo header: Cooke Scholars speak with program alums to learn about career pathways at Scholars Weekend 2019.