College draws top students from Chicago Public SchoolsBy Josh Schonwald
For the second year in a row, the University has awarded five full-tuition, four-year scholarships to graduates of the Chicago Public Schools.
This year’s CPS scholars, who were selected from a pool of Chicago’s elite public school students, include a professional actress, a math prodigy and the first Chinese-American graduate of Benito Juarez High School.
“We’re thrilled,” said Andre Phillips, Associate Director of College Admissions. “It’s an amazingly talented group of students.”
The 2004 CPS Scholars are Tiffany Booker, a graduate of John Hope College Prep, Ming Zhu He of Benito Juarez High School, David Gilliat of Hubbard High School, and Greta Honold and Mieka Van der Ploeg of Northside College Preparatory High School.
This year’s cohorts bring the number of CPS scholars who are enrolled in the College to 10. Created from a gift from the Crown Foundation two years ago, the program selects scholarship winners from CPS high schools on the basis of their academic talent and extra-curricular activities.
Phillips—who helped conceive the program with Michael Behnke, Vice President of Enrollment; Hank Webber, Vice President for Community and Government Affairs; and John Boyer, Dean of the College—said the program is achieving its goal of improving the University’s visibility in the city and attracting top CPS students to the College. “We knew more qualified applicants existed in CPS schools,” said Phillips, “and now we’re seeing proof of this in our enrollment and in our applicant pool.”
In years past, 20 to 25 CPS students entered the College each fall, and now that number is more than 40. Additionally, the pool of CPS applicants to the College has grown; in 2003, the College received 218 applications from CPS schools; last year the number soared to 287.
“There’s no question that the existence of the scholarship program is motivating this,” said Phillips, who has aggressively promoted the program over the past two years through visits to CPS high schools.
“We don’t want the best students in the city to turn away from us because they can’t afford us.” As an additional incentive to CPS students, the College waives their application fees.
The CPS Scholars program is just one part of the University’s outreach to CPS students. Eight talented CPS high school students attend classes in the College as part of the College Bridge program, and the two-year-old University Collegiate Scholars program, a three-year college preparatory enrichment program, currently brings nearly 150 CPS students to the campus regularly to experience the academic and cultural life of the University.
Phillips said the goal for the new CPS programs is simple. “We want the best students in the city of Chicago to come here.”