Every year about 3 million students graduate from high school in the United States — and only about 50,000 will have the qualifications to begin their academic careers at one of the country’s top 30 private research universities. These are schools that not only teach, but also inspire scientific innovation, social progress and artistic expression. Yet these universities are often branded as perpetrators of high student debt or bastions of privilege.
But they need not be. An important step toward reversing this perception would be to expand the ways that low-income, academically qualified students can gain access to these institutions. In this regard, the University of Southern California has been leading the way by widely recruiting and admitting transfer students from two-year community colleges.
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