For much of its time as a higher education institution, Lourdes College has attracted an older, more nontraditional, student body.
So when more and more traditional students began enrolling - those aged 18 to 25 - college officials realized they needed to make the Lourdes College experience more traditional as well.
In response to the explosive growth of its younger student population, the college is taking on an initiative to "strengthen" the institution through social and academic means. And to help institute the changes, the college applied for - and received - a $2 million, 5-year national grant.
Lourdes College was one of 43 institutions nationwide to receive a new grant as part of this year's U.S. Department of Education's Strengthening Institutions program, also known as a Title III grant. They join the 172 institutions already receiving continuous grants this year, totaling the amount dedicated to the initiative this year at $84 million.
"We knew we were growing and we knew that we had to provide our students beyond what we had been given," said Janet Robinson, vice president for academic af-fairs. "Our goal is by 2015, 100 percent of our students will be part of a new-student or transfer-student experience."
Founded in 1958, Lourdes College has more than doubled its student body in eight years, officials said. Of those new students, the most significant growth - 95 percent - was in traditional students.
Currently, 42 percent of the student body, or 1,098 students, are those under age 25.
Ms. Robinson said the college has targeted the grant funds for several areas.
In particular, the college hopes to improve student engagement on the campus, offer better career guidance and course advising, and encourage professors to use more inventive and interactive ways of teaching.
"They're newbies," Ms. Robinson said of the younger student body. "We need to show them the way to go so when they graduate from here, they have the knowledge, understanding, and skills to be successful."
Roseanne Gill-Jacobson, vice president of student life, said the college is also looking to help students during their first, and often most difficult, year.
Noting that about 30 percent of students do not return after their first year, Ms. Gill-Jacobson said the college hopes to use the grant to create a campus that is a more "comprehensive learning experience."
"As part of this grant, we'll be looking at everything we do during the first year of college and then shape [programs] accordingly," she said.
Nationally, the Department of Education analyzes those institutions that receive the grants by measuring performance in student enrollment, persistence, graduation, and cost per degree awarded, according to the department's Web site.
The school will receive $400,000 per year for five years. The grant expires in September, 2015.
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