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Twitter chat: Rethinking the needs of today’s undergraduates

Millions of college students don’t necessarily fit the traditional undergraduate mold, attending part-time while juggling other financial or personal demands.

“The idea of college as being this time away right after high school — it’s not true,” said Gail Mellow, president of LaGuardia Community College in New York.

At LaGuardia, there are single mothers, English-language learners, students who have been homeless, those who work full-time. A quarter of LaGuardia’s matriculated students work 30 or more hours a week to make ends meet, while 77 percent come from households barely making more than the poverty line.

“What happens when we don’t have a good idea of who goes to college, and why they’re going to college, is that we don’t fund the things that…I wish we would fund,” said Mellow.

She is working with LaGuardia not only to increase scholarship opportunities and stipends for these non-traditional degree-seekers, but to also uncover what social and academic resources they may need.

What might those efforts look like, and will they catch on at other colleges? To answer those questions and more, the PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) will host a Twitter chat at 12 p.m. EDT Thursday with Dr. Davis Jenkins (@DavisJenkCCRC), senior research scholar at the Community College Research Center (@CommunityCCRC), and Ashley A. Smith (@AshASmithNews), reporter for Inside Higher Education (@insidehighered). Follow the conversation using #NewsHourChats.