Expanding college access is the focus of new book

August 1, 2016

Terry Flennaugh

Terry Flennaugh is a co-editor and author of a new book on strategies and programs that can help improve college access for students from urban communities.

The book, “Expanding College Access for Urban Youth: What Schools and Colleges Can Do,” is a detailed case study on the VIP Scholars program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and addresses how similar programs can—and should—be enacted across the country. VIP Scholars connects the university to the Greater Los Angeles community with the ultimate aim of situating underrepresented K-12 students in a position to apply to and attend UCLA in the future.

Through the program, mentors visit several high schools in marginalized communities in Los Angeles, North Hollywood and Pasadena to discuss the merits of college in order to entice more African American and Latino students to attend. The book identifies and explores the supports, mentors and resources that were used for the program.

Flennaugh helped create the program at UCLA in 2005 along with his fellow co-editors for the book, Tyrone Howard and Jonli D. Tunstall, as well other scholars and researchers at UCLA. The program still continues at the university today.

“Research shows that early exposure to college has an impact on where students go,” said Flennaugh, assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education. “The purpose of the book is to participate in the conversation around creating more college access for urban youth and to retain them once they are in college. This book serves as a case study of the VIP Scholars program at UCLA, but also offers recommendations, tools and strategies for educators, community members and other stakeholders.” 

Many strategies outlined in the book can be mirrored in programs at Michigan State University, Flennaugh added, such as the Summer High School Scholars Program.

In his role as coordinator of urban initiatives for the college, Flennaugh says that his goal is to be more specific with youth about what MSU can do for them, and to help facilitate a pipeline toward enrolling at the university and the College of Education. He also hopes to establish and grow more relationships with community partners to create a smoother transition to college life; Flennaugh co-authored a chapter in “Expanding College Access” on the subject, as well as the book’s first chapter on postsecondary access and opportunities for urban youth.

The book, published through Teachers College Press, concludes with highlighted recommendations for policymakers, K-12 educators and higher education institutions from the co-editors. In the end, Flennaugh hopes that educators, community partners and higher education institutions alike acknowledge and work toward one simple goal: “All students have the potential to be successful at any college or university.”

Flennaugh’s own story of college success is inspirational. Read more in the New Educator magazine.