Family affair

It’s a family affair! HBCU changes admissions policy to allow students to bring families

Paul Quinn College is shaking up the education system by allowing students to choose two family members or friends to enroll alongside them and allow them to pursue a certificate or diploma, reports the Texas Tribune.

Preachers from the African Methodist Episcopal Church established the college in Waco in 1872 to educate former slaves and their children. In 1990, the college then moved to Dallas.

The college will implement its new admissions policy this fall. However, a few conditions apply; for incoming students to take advantage of this beneficial new orientation, an accepted student must have a 3.0 grade point average and be eligible for federal financial aid.

If a student is accepted with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 and is eligible for federal financial aid, they may choose two family members or friends to enroll with them.

Although the cause is noble, the question is why would Paul Quinn College provide such a generous educational path for students, family members and friends?

The answer is simple but poignant; their goal is to improve a family’s financial situation and ease the pressure of first-generation students. When the whole family is working towards a goal like a certificate or diploma, the college reasons will all benefit.

“Your teammates matter” Michael Sorrel, president of Paul Quinn College, told the Texas Tribune. “If you can invest in your teammates, if you can invest in your village, it makes the village stronger and it improves the chances and opportunities for your village to thrive.”

Family members and friends who enroll for further education will be encouraged to complete the curriculum online or become certified through the school’s PQCx, an accreditation program. Sorrell understands that most adults have to work and online schooling would be the most beneficial option.

Professor of Higher Education Policy and Sociology at Temple University, Sara Goldrick Rab, said this new model could improve retention and increase sign-ups. This new strategy can help first-generation college students who often struggle with the guilt of being the first person in their family to have a college education.

“He recognizes that you can take a student and give them more of an education,” she said of Sorrell. “But if the family doesn’t have resources, there’s an attraction to home that can bring them down.”

Goldrick-Rab observed that most educational institutions might not be able to follow this model, but for the PQC, it might be successful.

“Taking people you know with you makes college a family affair,” she said. “Which, to be honest with you, I think would resonate especially with African-American families who are very close-knit. It’s wicked smart.