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Jeffery D. Armstrong, the president of Cal Poly, joined many university presidents and higher education leaders at the dwelling grounds of the president of the United States, so that, together with President Obama, the first lady, and the vice president, new educational goals could be unveiled toward our country’s achieving the status of leader of the entire world in college attainment.

Participants in this event, known as The White House College Opportunity Day of Action, were asked to commit to specific goals. For example, creating K through 16 partnerships around college readiness—ensuring that each step on a the journey of a young person’s life is there to help them reach the next. Another overall goal is investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative. This can be very crucial, as, while the ultimate goal of Reach Higher is to encourage students to take charge of their own lives and complete education beyond high school, many students might not have the tools necessary to know where to go next, or any idea how to use the tools. Sometimes, neither do the counselors. And, of course, increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics ensures that we continue forward.

As for Cal Poly itself, the following commitments have been announced: increasing the graduation rates of both four-year and five-year programs. This will help meet the country’s need for more highly skilled professionals. The proclaimed commitment is, over the next 10 years, that Cal Poly shall increase its four-year graduation rate from 40 percent to more than 80 percent, and its five-year graduation rate from 70 percent to more than 90 percent. How these plans are to be set in motion I am as of yet unsure.

The other commitment is an expansion and enhancement of the college’s “Earn by Doing” program, which, as you might expect from both the title and Cal Poly’s style, is, for students, an exercise in that “Learn by Doing” philosophy: Hands-on, paid, on-campus work for students alongside staff, faculty, and other students to help earn skill sets required for these students to achieve their career goals; skill sets harder to achieve through merely reading about them. This is, once again, a facet of Cal Poly’s evergreen commitment to the philosophy that the hands-on approach is one of the most invaluable learning tools.

Of Cal Poly’s invitation to participate in The White House College Opportunity Day of Action, President Armstrong said, “We appreciate the invitation to be at the table for this important conversation. Investing in higher education is key to California’s and the nation’s future.”

Contributor Chris White-Sanborn wishes the best of luck to our students as they face their December finals. Send collegiate news to cougarsandmustangs@newtimesslo.com.

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