Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Career Compass Shows Way Ahead to College: Louisiana Nonprofit Helps Students Find Scholarships, Apply and Persist toward Degree

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Career Compass Shows Way Ahead to College: Louisiana Nonprofit Helps Students Find Scholarships, Apply and Persist toward Degree

Article excerpt

Many college students know from an early age that they are going to college. Many of their parents have gone to a university and understand the process. Every year, however, there are thousands of promising students who do not go to college simply because they do not understand the logistics of how to get in.

Julie Scott and Kacy Edwards found this out for themselves when they began teaching high school 12 years ago in southern Louisiana.

"When we asked the students if they wanted to go to college, they all said they were going, but most of them had no idea how to go about it, and no one to help them navigate through the process," Scott says.

Students, most of whom were African-American, were unaware of things such as where and when to take the ACT or how to fill out financial aid forms and college applications. High school counselors were available to help students, but the ratio was generally 400 students to every counselor.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

"We began spending our lunches and off-hours downloading applications to college, searching for scholarships and helping kids fill out ACT packets," Edwards says.

Edwards and Scott also gave out their cell phone numbers and were constantly on-call to students who needed their help. Sometimes, something as small as not having money to pay for an application fee kept students from applying to school or registering for the ACT. Scott and Edwards offered to pay for application fees for students and even let some students give them cash and helped them register online for the ACT using their personal credit cards or checks.

"Ultimately, we realized that these kids just needed someone to hold their hand and help them through the process," Scott says. "We had invested so much in the students, we didn't think it was a good idea to just let them go after they left our classes."

Edwards and Scott quit their jobs as teachers and, in 2006, created Career Compass of Louisiana, a nonprofit organization. During the past year alone, they counseled more than 6,000 high school students in 52 schools with 24 coaches. Career Compass counselors see every single high school senior at least twice during the year in these schools. Recently, they also began visiting eighth-graders in a handful of schools.

"We knew that there were after-school college counseling programs, but we thought the most effective way to touch these kids was to see them during the day because the ones who had jobs or did not have transportation or had babies could not come after school. Our goal was to get everyone, whether they were high-performing or low-performing students," Edwards says. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.