Chris Hess collaboration with The Equity Lab shakes up admissions by immersing low-income students in Ivy League courses

Chris Hess portrait

Our very own Chris Hess, who completed his PhD in Sociology in 2019, has since been engaged as a postdoctoral program at Cornell University where one of his many projects has been to help set up a new course offered through the National Education Equity Lab. Titled "Big Data for Big Policy Problems," it was built through a team effort along with Professors Maria Fitzpatrick and Matt Hall, along with PhD students Rene Crespin and Ari Decter-Frain and others at eCornell, where Hess' role has been to create the lessons and assignments on the coding side of the course. 

Here the students learn the fundamentals of applied statistics, data manipulation and visualization, and spatial analysis. They apply these skills within substantive domains of education, housing, health and criminal justice policy, with programming assignments drawing on novel sources of data like administrative records and web scrapes.

Through these courses, hundreds of students from high-poverty high schools across the country are earning college credit before they leave high school. They are listening to lectures, taking quizzes, writing essays, graded by the same standards as university students, and meeting the rigorous academic standards to become more eligible for competitive university admissions.

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