I went to a school meeting today and heard the message that we (everyone on campus) needs to do more for more students. It's more planning for a dismal future.
We need to accept more students, which means we all need to recruit more students and get them to want to apply and enroll. We need to do this even though the population of traditional college age students is going down. That means we need to recruit non-traditional students, or just more traditional students. And that means, unless something changes and we suddenly become an Ivy, we're going to be accepting students who in whatever parlance you choose, are "less well prepared" to be in college. "Less well prepared" may mean less economically advantaged, of course, because measures of preparedness tend to show a strong correlation with socio-economic status; that is, wealthy students tend to be "well prepared" and very poor students tend to be less "well prepared." And of course, preparedness has nothing to do with being smart, and lots to do with having learned to manage in academic cultures and dominant cultures, and having had lots of opportunities.
In addition to accepting more students (and yes, the presenters acknowledged that theses students won't be as "well prepared" as the current population here on average), we need to increase retention and raise four year graduation rates. And, of course, four year graduation rates are also strongly correlated with socio-economic status. Students who have lots of advantages tend to be able to graduate in four years more often than students with fewer advantages.
One of the presenters kept basically saying that we need to do all the good stuff we're doing now, but we need to all just get one more student to come and stay, and to get one more student to graduate in four years. But of course, we don't know which is the one student each year, so we need to focus that on every student in hopes of catching one.
In other words, we need to do more for more students, some of whom are going to be less well prepared for college than our current students.
This meeting came after an hour and a half with a needy student who was unhappy that I sounded unfriendly in responding to hir question about how many issues zie needed to deal with for a project assignment. An hour and a half. It's the job, and I hope it was helpful for her, but it's draining and makes me want to find another job. I have shoveling skills. I wonder if any circuses need a shoveler?