Ji and I were talking about Posse the other day (as in, I wish we could have Posse for adults and make a bunch of my LA friends move here) and I was surprised to find out that both UCLA and Berkeley host Posse Scholars.  I guess it’s kind of nice because they host in-state students so they don’t pay out of state fees for the students, and there’s no conflict with Prop 209.

To backpedal, if you’re not familiar with the program, as the website says, Posse started because of one student who said, “I never would have dropped out of college if I had my posse with me.” (We joke that this was the first and last time that the word “posse” was ever used in normal, human conversation) Basically schools chip over a bunch of $ and annually fund about 8-10ish full rides to outstanding students from urban areas every year. Vanderbilt was the first Posse host site back in the day (1989) and a lot of my fav people in undergrad were Posse scholars. The idea is that by sending a group (or posse, if you will) of students from underrepresented backgrounds to this foreign environment (a traditionally White campus, generally), you can boost retention because they can help support each other, etc. They also have staff who work with them during their college careers (posse trainers). Colleges win not only by getting more diverse students who probably would have not considered their school (posse students tending to be first-gen college students, and host schools tending to be elite institutions craving diversity–although there seem to be more posse schools who already have a good amount of racial diversity, but still want to increase for instance socioeconomic diversity or whatnot), but these students are specifically selected based on leadership expertise, etc. So they’re basically selecting super talented students who will go on to be campus leaders, positively affect the campus culture, etc. Which is basically what they did at Vandy. (They even have a retreat called “Posse Plus” where Posse students bring their non-Posse friends to talk about Posse-esque things like leadership, changing the campus, etc., so the hope is that there would be a ripple effect.)

Anyway, there are some cynical things one could say about Posse, but by and large (I think) it’s a fantastic program and if institutions are willing to pony up the $, why not. It was funny to see that UCLA and Cal are hosting Posse Scholars because typically Posse institutions have been super White, elite types, often privates and private liberal arts, but I checked the latest institution list and there are actually a fair # of publics. And now they even have Science Posse. Pretty cool…


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