Pipeline programs are designed to promote college readiness and college access for underrepresented students in a variety of fields.
Many U.S colleges have pipeline programs designed for both high schools students, and middle school students too. The idea is to give targeted individuals — such as low-income youth, minorities, first-generation college students and others — as early an introduction as possible to a given academic discipline or industry.
Pipeline programs are particularly common in STEM areas, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Besides promoting college preparedness and access, pipeline programs frequently provide a pathway to a more affordable higher education as well.
That’s because students who successfully complete pipeline programs are often offered free or discounted tuition at selected colleges and universities.
Future Scholars Program Offers Full Tuition Scholarships
One highly successful initiative is the Future Scholars Program at Rutgers University, which currently serves a total of about 1,000 youth. It’s a completely free, 5-year pre-college program.
Academically ambitious, low-income students apply for the program during 7th grade. After being accepted, students receive an array of benefits from 8th grade through their senior year of high school:
- Participants attend free summer programs, including residential experiences
- They hone their skills in reading, writing, math, physics and chemistry
- Students attend college information workshops on campus
- They get individualized tutoring for their most challenging subjects
- Students receive coaching to perform well on college admissions tests
Best of all, Rutgers grants full tuition scholarships to students who successfully complete the program and are later admitted to the school.
That’s a terrific deal any way you look at it.
Even if a student chooses not to apply to Rutgers, because an application isn’t a requirement of the program, the Future Scholars Program still prepares youth for any college of their dreams — as well as other pursuits.
“We take 200 students every year and provide them with the academic, social, emotional and financial support to help them succeed,” says Aramis Gutierrez, Program Director of the Rutgers Future Scholars Program.
“Our main goal is to ensure that students find the right fit for them — whether that’s here at Rutgers, at another four-year institution, a two-year college, or even doing something else,” he adds, noting: “We guide them accordingly, regardless of whether or not they pursue college, because some students are interested in working after high school, or engaging in community service, or even joining the military.”
Help for International Students Too
As I revealed in College Secrets, international students should know that just as there are pipeline programs for under-represented minorities and others, there are likewise “pathway” programs for international students.
Inside Higher Education has chronicled several pathway programs for foreign students who study in the U.S. While these offerings vary greatly by institution, a key benefit is that many of these programs ultimately save students money on tuition.
How is this done? In essence, pathway programs for international students work by accelerating a student’s undergraduate work and helping the student more seamlessly transition through the American higher education system.
Instead of spending time and money improving their English through an intensive ESL program, a student gets to combine English and academic study right away, and immediately start amassing credits toward his or her four-year degree.
By cutting the number of courses required for graduation, international students lower their college costs, graduate sooner, and more quickly begin their work lives either here in the U.S. or in other countries around the world.