Córdova: Financial Aid, Lack of Direction Challenge Today’s Students

Today on higher education week on our blog, we feature guest posts from Purdue University President France Córdova. She answers:

  • What is the No. 1 change you would like to see in Indiana’s higher education system that would help serve students better?

Indiana is blessed with a rich array of opportunities in higher education. Students can attend community or regional colleges near their home, outstanding private four-year institutions, or world-class public research universities. The choice depends on their career plans, financial means, academic preparation and personal preference.

In spite of the choices, I’m hearing some common challenges that prospective students face when it comes to higher education: (1) the admissions and financial aid processes can be daunting, especially for those who are the first in their families to attend college; (2) students often do not know which college or university, or course of study, can best help them reach their educational and career goals; and (3) for a variety of reasons many students do not pursue their degree aggressively and fail to stay in college to degree completion.

At Purdue, we’re helping to answer these challenges in several ways:

  • We are employing more transparent online financial aid tools for students and their families. Also, we have launched a campaign to raise more scholarship funds for students who have demonstrable need for financial assistance, as well as for those who apply themselves in the classroom and show leadership potential.
  • To help students with college preparation and course selection, we are investigating the benefits of a campus-wide core curriculum, and we are working to simplify the transfer of courses among institutions, including from Ivy Tech to Purdue. Our regional campuses are looking at increased efficiencies in common credit transfer processes and shared resources, including a shared core curriculum to ease transfer among the campuses. Purdue’s campuses are working together to help power economic development across northern Indiana and everyone in the area will benefit.
  • Once a student enrolls with us, we work hard to help that student succeed. We have a large number of novel retention practices at our campuses, making use of experiential learning, information technology and social media.

We also encourage our students to be entrepreneurial through certification programs and through internships in our technology parks, Indiana companies and nonprofits; these learning experiences help the state keep more graduating students.