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Rhode Island College Opens Doors Early to Rising High School Seniors

Rising seniors in the top half of their class at Central Falls High School have been admitted to nearby Rhode Island College through a new conditional acceptance program aimed at removing barriers that can keep high-achieving, low-income students from pursuing a degree.

The 9,000-student college in Providence, R.I., admitted 90 students early from Central Falls, located about seven miles away from its campus where about two-thirds of the high school population qualifies for free and reduced lunch. Many of the rising seniors toured campus last month, attended orientation, and were issued college student identification cards.

To secure their place in the class of 2020, the high school students must take the ACT or SAT, maintain their grades, complete the Rhode Island College application, and get a certificate of reliability from their school, the college's Web site reports.

Conditionally accepted students will not have to pay a $50 application fee or $200 enrollment deposit for the college and the high school has agreed to allow them to keep their school-issued laptops.

This program targets financial and application hurdles, while other colleges have developed supports for students to address learning issues such as requiring participation in summer bridge programs, an article in the National Association for College Admission Counseling notes.

About 57 percent of four-year colleges use some type of provisional admission practices, according to an NACAC report that included survey results from about 1,300 four-year institutions. This allows schools to enroll students who show potential to succeed in college but may not meet standard or preferred academic qualifications. The provisionally admitted students are often asked to meet certain academic requirements beyond what is normally expected, such as taking specific classes, participating in orientation and working with a tutor or having a reduced course load.

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