We always seem to be searching for an easy answer, a silver bullet to solve problems; but rarely, if ever, is a “quick fix” possible or effective. Such is the case with education, especially when it comes to helping our low-income students graduate from high school and succeed in college. There are myriad factors at play, but the simple truth is that low-income students rarely receive the same levels of support and guidance they need to prepare properly for college when compared to high-income counterparts.
Looking ahead, it’s estimated that 68% of jobs will require secondary education by 2020. Comparing current college completion rates, 84% of high-income students are graduating college while only 8% of low-income students are earning degrees. This massive gap in education attainment affects everything in our community from public safety and quality of services to workforce development and economic sustainability.
The good news is numerous organizations are working to change these statistics and give our youth an opportunity to succeed, like The College Initiative. The organization provides college-capable, low-income high school students with the tools and mentorship they need to successfully apply to and succeed in college. They form partnerships with school districts, teachers, and community volunteers, who together with their trained staff, walk beside high school students to ensure they receive the help and support needed to navigate everything from high school coursework and testing through the college application process and receiving financial aid.
The College Initiative focuses on early intervention and in-person mentoring with an Outreach Program designed for high school freshmen and sophomores and Core Programming for juniors and seniors. Key elements include parent information sessions, in-school advising and course selection guidance, test preparation, help with college admission requirements and scholarship applications, college tours, and assistance with financial aid and interview preparation.
It’s a one-on-one approach with accountability starting the first day of high school; and it works! They have a 99% high school graduation rate with their students and over 90% are going to college, which includes universities like Harvard and Stanford. For perspective, the students’ average annual family income is $23,000 and 76% are first generation college students.
There are many ways to help and become a part of The College Initiative, so visit TheCollegeInitiative.org and learn more.