Washington, D.C., Dec. 4, 2013—Yesterday, the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) premiered Redefining Access for the 21st-Century Student, a documentary which reexamines what college access means for today’s students, and the realities they encounter. The film offers a surprising and intimate look into the lives of five college students—Andrea Fitch, Donald Richards, Jenell Holder, Sharon Flores, and Traval Mensah—who are at different points in their lives, and their educational careers, but who face similar barriers to accessing college.
Redefining Access for the 21st-Century Student illuminates the extent to which access problems still exist and what barriers to college remain. The film makes clear that persistent gaps in preparation, skyrocketing costs threatening affordability, and increasing stratification in higher education cannot be ignored if our nation is to reach its postsecondary attainment goals.
Shot on location across the country, Redefining Access for the 21st Century Student is meant to humanize critical issues around college access in the hope of elevating the national conversation. It also features a group of top higher education leaders, convened through a Brain Trust, who offer their perspectives and insights on the nuances that emerge when 21st-century students strive to access college. Brain Trust members include: Michael Dakduk, former executive director, Student Veterans Association; Jacob Fraire, vice president for student and institutional success, TG; David Hawkins, director of public policy and research, National Association of College Admission Counseling; Elisabeth Mason, CEO and co-founder, Single Stop USA; Jennifer Mishory, deputy director, Young Invincibles; Arnold Mitchem, Ph.D., founder and president emeritus, Council for Opportunity in Education; Mark Mitsui, former president, North Seattle Community College; Charlie Nelms, Ed.D., founder, Destination Graduation Initiative; and Michele Siqueiros, executive director, The Campaign for College Opportunity.
“With the recent—and much needed—attention to improving college completion, it is tempting to believe that college access is no longer as pressing a problem for today’s students,” said IHEP President Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D. “Yet, there are high school graduates on community college waiting lists, displaced workers with no local programs to meet their reskilling needs, and working parents unable to balance family needs with their desire for a degree. Redefining Access for the 21st Century Student shares snapshots that represent just some of the struggles today’s students often face when accessing our nation’s postsecondary institutions.”
Redefining Access for the 21st Century Student premiered yesterday during the National Policy Summit: Redefining Access for the 21st-Century Student, a signature IHEP event held at the National Press Club. A post-film discussion featuring all five students gave each an opportunity to share how their own experiences can relate to a broader audience of students like them. Specifically, each student revealed their various perspectives as being a transfer student (Traval), returning adult (Andrea), online learner (Jenell), military veteran (Donald), and first-generation college student (Sharon).
Redefining Access for the 21st-Century Student is supported by TG, a Round Rock, Texas-based nonprofit corporation that promotes educational success to help millions of students and families realize their college and career dreams.
IHEP is organizing screenings of the film at select higher education-related events throughout 2014. In addition, IHEP plans to release next year its redefined framework for access and success for the 21st-century student.
For more information about Redefining Access for the 21st-Century Student, visit IHEP’s website at www.ihep.org.