Bowdoin’s Whitney Soule: ‘Low-Income Students’ Success in College Starts in High School’ (Diverse)

Whitney Soule

Whitney Soule

In an op-ed piece for Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, Whitney Soule, Bowdoin’s director of admissions, writes of the necessity of diversity on college campuses amid the challenges involved in recruiting low-income and first-generation students.

Soule, with co-author Jessica Pliska, founder and CEO of The Opportunity Network, says getting inside the mind of just such a high school student requires partnerships between colleges and organizations where students live. Read “Low-Income Students’ Success in College Starts in High School.” 


  1. Uncle John says:

    Dear Whitney:
    Here are some thoughts from one who has been involved in education one way or another for more than seventy years.
    1. ALL education is necessary and quite linear.
    2. According to some of my more educationally focused colleagues say that a person has learned 50% of everything they will ever know when they are six years old.
    3. It is crucial to understand this. It means that a great deal of what we are exposed to later in life is REMEDIAL education and REFINED education.
    4. One of the most challenging problems in education has been dealing with people who have NOT been taught anything in a specific subject area, so there is no “framework” to work with in teaching them.
    5. It is truly a joy when a teacher discovers a deeply-imbedded interest in a student and understands how to use that to help the student learn additional “things”.
    6. I have personally taught every level of student from Kindergarten through Ph.D. and the biggest problem I have found–over which I have no control–is the lack of parental involvement in education. Parents who say that “my kid’s education is the job of the school” have been a life-long frustration.
    7. I have served on the Board of Directors of MSAD72 under three superintendents and with many short and long term associates. Too often I hear “Well, how are we going to deal with —–(fill in whatever you like)—–?” AND, the role of the parent and their responsibilities with regard to their child’s education are never addressed with much depth.
    8. That is just the start of what could easily be a 300 page book about why it is often too late to wait until High School to work on the success of “Low-Income Students”.
    9. Seriously, I could spend hours defending my position that academic success starts when a child is about 2-3 years old. Many others agree with me–that is how we (yes, I was involved) got the “Head Start” program going.
    10. I would and will be very interested in your thoughts. Have you ever picked up the personal challenge of recording (writing down) all the major items of knowledge that you currently possess and analyzing where and how you came to possess them?
    11. What does your list of “crucial knowledge and events” look like? (Hint: I am still adding to mine!) (From a 99 year old lady on Sunday: 5 hugs a day will extend your life by ten years…..)

    Good Luck…and I hope to hear from you.
    John S. H. Carter, Bowdoin class of 1958

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