New, Free Service Connects Lower-Income, First-Gen Students with Top Colleges

A new, free initiative is open for business to draw first-generation and lower-income students with high potential into looking at colleges and universities they might otherwise never consider. TalentED is a Web site for use by the students themselves, as well as high school advisors and college admissions people. Described as a "relationship-based technology portal," TalentED, takes profiles entered by the high schoolers and their advisors and helps match them to institutions that appear to be a good fit.

The project follows four tactics to reach its goal:

  • Helping colleges identify and recruit first-generation and low-income 11th and 12th graders with high potential;
  • Helping high school counselors highlight talented students and match them up with the colleges where they're likely to succeed;
  • Helping students maximize their online presence for recruitment opportunities; and
  • Connecting admissions professionals at institutions of higher education.

To participate in the project, high school advisors need to demonstrate their knowledge of the college search and admissions processes by passing a brief assessment. And colleges and universities must be invited to participate. Currently, 66 institutions in 24 states have joined the program. Four in five of those are private colleges.

As one higher ed participant explained, she finds the possibilities of TalentED "exciting." Through the TalentED project we will work closely with advisors and college admission officers to make the best connections for the students and their college choice," said Lisa Burns, associate dean of admissions at Sewanee: University of the South. "The many aspects of the program have been well thought out and constructed in a way that we are certain to find some great matches for Sewanee."

The program grew out of a pilot run in the fall that included Vanderbilt University, Swarthmore College and Butler U, among others.

The work has been funded by financial services company UBS, which runs the NextGen Leaders, a $10 million initiative to increase college graduation among the segments of students targeted in this latest effort. The Tennessee College Access & Success Network serves as the project's lead content and implementation partner. Discovery Education has served as lead in the technical development of the platform and is involved in raising awareness of TalentED through its extensive community of teachers and students.

"High school counselors, teachers and nonprofit staff play a critical role in supporting students in the admissions process," said Bob Broth, executive director of the Tennessee network in a press release. "This site strengthens relationships between access organizations and admissions recruiters nationwide to make the recruitment process more effective and efficient for everyone — both professionals and students."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.