PBS NewsHour Debuts 5-Part Series “Rethinking College: Closing the Graduation Gap” Week of August 17

WASHINGTON, DC (August 13, 2015) – Each night the week of August 17, 2015 (check local listings), the PBS NewsHour with Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will broadcast the special 5-part series “Rethinking College: Closing the Graduation Gap.” NewsHour Correspondent and Weekend Anchor Hari Sreenivasan traveled throughout the United States to profile five leading edge experiments aimed at improving educational and career opportunities for poor students, who currently complete their bachelor’s degrees at half the rate of wealthier students.

Coverage of “Rethinking College” will carry over to NewsHour online, with original stories from the NewsHour and our partners at the Hechinger Report and Inside Higher Ed.

A schedule for the series’ content on broadcast and topics for reporting online the week of August 17 is below. PBS NewsHour’s “Rethinking College” is funded by the Lumina Foundation.


  • Monday, August 17: Who Drops Out and Why?
    How the University of Texas at Austin figured out what’s keeping their low income students from graduating and built a leadership network that’s decreasing the dropout rate.  
  • Tuesday, August 18: Bold Move on the Border
    How is it that 500 high school seniors are graduating with an Associate’s degree and 3,000 of their peers are enrolled in college courses, in a town on the Mexico border where the odds are stacked against them?
  • Wednesday, August 19: Ending Merit Aid
    What happens when a school stops giving out aid for merit, and just focuses on need? Franklin & Marshall shows us its work in progress.
  • Thursday, August 20: The 4-Year Degree Dilemma 
  • Transferring credits between community college and university is a huge problem: see how a community college and a university in Florida are fixing it.
  • Friday, August 21: A New University
    How did ASU, the largest university in America, restructure to prepare for the future while increasing acceptance and graduation rates for students from all income backgrounds?


  • PBS NewsHour: Many students who drop out of college because of financial strains need just small amounts to keep going. Georgia State University is driving up retention and completion with a program that offers emergency grants of $1,500 or less to students in their final year of college who can’t pay their full tuition bill (online).
  • PBS NewsHour: Tennessee – the first state to launch free community college guarantees – is also doing away with traditional remedial classes in favor of placing students in college-level courses and offering those who need extra help or skill placement into co-requisite courses (online).
  • Hechinger Report: Why is there such little public data on Pell Grant recipients’ graduation rates? (online)
  • Hechinger Report: California’s public higher education system – once a model for accessibility, quality and cutting-edge research – is slipping, even as it keeps net costs low for lower-income students (online).
  • Hechinger Report: New student data enables admissions officers to predict and select students who are more likely to graduate.
  • Hechinger Report: A retirement home in New York is the setting for a health career program that offers high schools a credential that can get them a $15/hr job to help with college costs (online).
  • Inside Higher Ed: Sinclair Community College has adopted every completion initiative that has come along in the last 15 years. What’s working?

About PBS NewsHour  

PBS NewsHour is seen by over four million weekly viewers and is also available online, via public radio in select markets, and via podcast. PBS NewsHour is a production of NewsHour Productions LLC, a wholly-owned non-profit subsidiary of WETA Washington, D.C., in association with WNET in New York. Major funding for PBS NewsHour is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and public television viewers. Major corporate funding is provided by BNSF, with additional support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Lemelson Foundation, National Science Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Ford Foundation, Skoll Foundation, Friends of the NewsHour and others. More information on PBS NewsHour is available at www.pbs.org/newshour. On social media, visit NewsHour on Facebook or follow @NewsHour on Twitter.

Media Contact: Nick Massella
Director of Audience Engagement and Communications
PBS NewsHour
nmassella@newshour.org // 202.286.8844