Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Replicating Success: Recent College Grads Help Low-Income Students Navigate the Path to College through Innovative Program

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Replicating Success: Recent College Grads Help Low-Income Students Navigate the Path to College through Innovative Program

Article excerpt

A University of Virginia program with a track record of improving college enrollment and graduation among low-income students is being replicated at 10 other schools nationwide, with the help of a $10-million grant.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has decided to copy UVas three-year-old College Guide program, which uses recent UVa graduates to guide Virginia high school and community college students through the process of enrolling in four-year institutions.

Thanks to the Cooke Foundation, the program is being exported to Brown University, Franklin & Marshall College, Loyola College, Pennsylvania State University, Tufts University, the University of Alabama, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Missouri-Columbia, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Utah, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Campus Compact.

Cooke Foundation officials say they hope to realize results similar to those achieved by the College Guide program at Holston High School in Damascus, Va. Prior to becoming involved with College Guide, Holston traditionally sent 50 percent of its graduates to some form of higher education. That number increased to 85 percent after College Guide stepped into the picture.

The UVa program participants tap their own experiences to educate students at their assigned high school or community college about the college admissions and financial aid process. After six weeks of training, the UVa participants become quasi-guidance counselors and concentrate solely on encouraging and preparing students to attend college.

UVa and the other 10 schools now embracing the College Guide rubric are collectively known as the National College Advising Corps, or NCAC. As is the case with UVa's program, NCAC counselors will work for one nine-month academic year at their assigned school. In return, they receive housing and riving stipends totaling $20,000, health insurance and a $5,000 scholarship to attend graduate school. The counselors work for one academic year, but can stay longer.

But participants at UVa also get something that can't be measured in dollars and cents, says program member Paulin Cheatham, who earned a bachelor's degree in history in 2005. …

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