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Opening the doors of access and affordability

Increasing access to higher education is integral to UD’s mission.

One of myriad ways the University is opening doors is through the Associate in Arts Program (AAP), an affordable pathway to college for Delaware residents. With locations in Wilmington, Dover and Georgetown, the two-year program offers small class sizes, specialized advising and low or—in most cases—no tuition. Students are full-fledged Blue Hens who, after earning an associate degree, may transition to UD’s main campus, which nine out of 10 do.

“As much as the students need to be ready for secondary education, the faculty, staff and institution need to be ready for the students,” says David Satran, AAP director. “We need to welcome them with a curriculum and experience that speaks to their needs and ambitions.”

By opening doors to a greater pool of scholars, AAP is advancing ideas of what it means to be a college student. But AAP is itself continually evolving. Now, with a recently secured grant to help meet the post-COVID moment, the program is broadening its services. This includes the hiring of four new positions: two mental health counselors and two student engagement and support
facilitators. Two of these positions will be based in Wilmington, and two will be shared between Dover and Georgetown. The move is the latest manifestation of a bona fide commitment to the people of the Diamond State.

“UD needs to be for Delaware,” Satran says. “We can’t do much better than making this an inclusive environment—in a really sincere way.”

It’s a mission that AAP students are paying forward, long after they graduate.

Consider Christian Wills, an alumnus of AAP who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in English from UD’s main campus in 2020. Today, he’s so inspired by the commitment to equitable education and community outreach that was modeled for him by AAP, Wills spends his days as a student advocate for junior high schoolers in Wilmington. As a mentor, he strives to replicate the sense of belonging that was afforded to him as a new college student several years ago.

“The staff and professors nurtured not just my learning, but my self-discovery,” he says of his AAP community. “Now, I try to relay to my own students: In this community space, everyone is worthy.”

 

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