Janet Nishihara, center, and Educational Opportunities Program colleagues pose outside of Waldo Hall.

Summer 2022 — Oregon State University is expanding its partnership with College Possible, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering students from historically under-invested communities to access higher education, thrive in college and develop their career paths.

“As a result of systemic inequities in our country, students from groups which have been historically marginalized face many barriers to attending and graduating from college,” says Janet Nishihara, executive director of OSU’s Educational Opportunities Program. “Oregon State and College Possible are excited to bring together our services supporting previously underserved college students as they work to complete college and move into their working lives.”

College Possible works in communities across the nation and began offering its college access programming in Oregon in 2013. Oregon State and College Possible began collaborating in 2014 focusing on the recruitment of students from historically under-invested communities.

Led by Nishihara, the Educational Opportunities Program is now overseeing the College Possible program at Oregon State. With the deepening of their partnership, OSU and College Possible will expand their focus to persistence, retention and belonging. This focus builds upon EOP’s long history at OSU of supporting students who have been traditionally denied equal access to higher education. EOP also oversees the Dr. Lawrence Griggs Office of Black & Indigenous Student Success, the Dreaming Beyond Borders Resource Center and programming to support students of color, first-generation students and students from low-income backgrounds.

College Possible begins coaching students during their junior year of high school and continues until college graduation. The program supports students wherever they are — coaching is available to College Possible students if they decide not to enroll in college, they attend a community college or four-year university, or they stop attending college.

The College Possible program will now provide a coach that works specifically with Oregon State students and is located on the Corvallis campus. Coaches work with students to help them achieve milestones associated with college persistence and graduation, including everything from assistance renewing the FAFSA, to connecting with OSU resources, to guidance on college learning strategies. The expanded partnership also emphasizes events to build community among College Possible students and help create a network of support and friendship.

“Research on persistence and retention consistently demonstrates one key piece of college success: having one person on campus who knows your name and cares about you,” says Cari Allyn Brooks, director of college success at College Possible Oregon. “While countless OSU faculty and staff know and care for our students, the College Possible team serves as a through line from their junior year of high school until they graduate with a bachelor’s degree, no matter how long it takes or how many places they go.”