28.5.12

A COMMUTER DISCOUNT?

How else characterize a recent Northern Illinois University scholarship?  It's based on geography, not necessarily merit.
One of those tools is a $4,000 scholarship for local high school students who have at least a 2.75 cumulative grade-point average.

“Local students grow up hearing about NIU, and they drive by the campus,” said Anne Hardy, director of NIU’s scholarship office. “This is really giving them the opportunity to see NIU as a choice for higher education.”

The DeKalb County scholarship program started in 2011, and 61 local students enrolled at NIU with the scholarship last year.

Hardy expects as many as 90 students to enroll with the scholarship this fall semester. She said NIU officials won’t know how many students will attend until September, when fall enrollment numbers have been calculated.

Hardy said NIU stepped up its local recruiting efforts through the scholarship program because many local students have chosen to attend community college before entering a four-year school.

“[Community college] is a great choice for many students, but we also wanted to make NIU an affordable option,” she said.

She said students who attend four-year universities as freshmen are immersed in student culture early on rather than as a junior.
A 2.75 in high school? Some of the critics of the common schools who see grade inflation everywhere are likely to be non-plussed: that 2.75 is last century's failing.

More seriously, though, the university has grappled for years with the Illinois Articulation Initiative.  It prevents the kind of game-playing four-year and two-year colleges engage in to increase tuition yields to the inconvenience of students.  At the same time, the four-year institutions face a challenge in filling the general education classes that common wisdom has subsidize the upper division courses, and an economic incentive might be more effective than general education clusters or marketing the student culture (too often, alas, frats 'n football) as a way of bringing freshmen and sophomores on board.

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