Won't Lose This Dream: How an Upstart Urban University Rewrote the Rules of a Broken System

Princeton Nelson was at a crossroads. He was born in prison, his parents convicted of dealing drugs. He attended an institution for kids with emotional and behavioral problems. He ran with gangs and carried a gun. Through it all, Princeton was a good student with natural intelligence. If it hadn't been for Georgia State, however, Princeton might have had a different end than graduating with a computer science degree and a 3.3 GPA.

When Princeton applied in 2016, Georgia State was gaining a "national reputation for its pioneering work" helping students like him--poor, Black and struggling to make it as the first in their family to attend college. "What is remarkable about Georgia State students is that despite the precariousness of many of their lives, they still graduate in extraordinary numbers." The six-year graduation rate is close to 60%, well above the national average.

Won't Lose This Dream is the remarkable story of how Georgia State revamped its system to help students on the edge flourish and succeed. "This is not just about the lives of a few unusually tenacious and talented individuals. We are talking about a fundamental transformation, a real-time experiment in social mobility that the university has learned to perform consistently, and at scale." Journalist Andrew Gumbel's well-researched account is backed up with hard statistics but remains far from tedious. Infused with background from the school's administration, particularly those who pushed for difficult change amid recession, and student success stories, it is a heartfelt and hard-won template for success. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

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