The Atlantic Article: Focus on RU-N and HLLC

Rutgers University – Newark and HLLC were recently focused in the Atlantic’s article, “A University That Prioritizes the Students Who Are Often Ignored.”

“Rutgers offers free tuition for low- and moderate-income Newark residents and local transfer students, regardless of their GPAs and test scores. Its newly minted honors program doesn’t consider SAT scores for admissions. It has put emotional and financial supports in place. Course offerings have been enhanced.”

This does not mean the students’ have it easy. Rather, Chancellor Nancy Cantor states, “There’s phenomenal knowledge and talent out there, and that contributes so much to the institution. We don’t have the traditional view that we’re somehow ‘letting these kids in’ to be influenced by us.”

In support of the university’s efforts, RU-N’s graduation rate for black students is above the national average. The article highlights the university’s stance that ‘emotional issues can be as disruptive as financials ones when it comes to keeping students in college.” As a result, the university has increased students’ opportunities to get help when needed by posting around campus “listening tables,” doctors, and counselors in academic buildings, lounges, and food cafeterias. The university also works with students behind in their tuition payments, seeking to understand the problem and offering solutions, helping to lower drop-out rates.

One big focus is not on scores, especially for students that apply and are admitted to The Honors Living-learning Community (HLLC). This is a major contrast to other honors college that emphasize high-scoring students. For all the critics, Vice Chancellor Corlisse Thomas appropriately asks, “You read about honors colleges filtering out students with narrow predictors of success. So who is deemed deserving and capable of an honors education?” The HLLC cultivates students’ talents that will positively impact their communities.

Remaining innovative, HLLC offers their students, and to the campus, courses that aim to better engage students from diverse backgrounds. One of the founding courses, Black Lives Matter: HBO Series, “The Wire,” engages students in critical thinking that strays from traditional pedagogy. Topics that are relevant to students’ everyday lives do not translate to a less academic environment in the classroom. These are challenging, but necessary topics and ideas to employ.

Kolodner, Meredith. “A University That Prioritizes the Students Who Are Often Ignored.” The Atlantic. May 19, 2016,