By Natalia Schoorl
When navigating the complex system of higher education, students aspiring to go to college have a lot to consider: How do I choose a university? How do I write a strong application? What classes do I need? Where do I find quality internships? How do I get financial aid? What resources are out there for me? It can be overwhelming for anyone, and especially for those who aren’t familiar with the system or who may be the first in their families to go to college.
Recently, I attended Aspire Public Schools' 2019 Education Symposium about the cost of college. For many students, cost is such a huge barrier that they may wonder, Is it even worth it? For the panelists at this event, the answer was unequivocally: yes. Panelists emphasized that a college degree greatly increases earnings over a person’s lifetime. They also pointed out the unquantifiable value of college, such as personal development, potential professional connections, and access to research opportunities.
There is a lot of information for students to process and understand in order to make sound personal and financial decisions. Here are 8 organizations supporting students on their way to and through college:
Beyond 12 uses an innovative technology platform and a personalized student coaching service to help high schools and colleges track, connect with, and support students to ensure they graduate from college. Beyond 12’s mission is to “dramatically increase the number of low-income, first-generation, and historically under-represented students who graduate from college.”
Braven leads a one-semester undergraduate course at San Jose State University that incorporates career mentoring, professional competencies development, and exposure to professional networks. The goal is that first-generation college students, students from low-income backgrounds, and students of color leave college with the “skills, confidence, experiences networks necessary to transition from college to strong first jobs.”
College Track’s program model focuses on three pillars of support: academic affairs, student life, and college completion. With several locations in the SF Bay Area and the U.S., their 10-year program starts in high school and helps students build their academic skills, discover their passions and interests, and secure financial aid.
East Palo Alto Academy (EPAA) serves over 350 students from East Palo Alto and nearby communities, 87 percent of whom are first-generation college-bound. Advisors and the College Going Team support students as they determine life goals and consider college options. EPAA Foundation College Success Counselor stays in touch with students during their transition to college and serves as the primary counselor throughout college.
Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto, whose student body is 99 percent first-generation college-bound, has a dedicated alumni support program that checks in with students throughout college to provide support and connect them with internships during summer breaks that help launch their careers.
Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS) collaborates with school districts to identify low-income students and students of color who qualify, but are missing from challenging college-preparatory courses, such as AP or IB classes. EOS then works with the schools to enroll these students in these classes and support their academic success.
Foundation for a College Education (FCE) in East Palo Alto provides academic and career counseling, guidance with financial aid and scholarship processes, and college transition support for students in their program. They also provide programs to help parents understand the secondary and higher education system and become advocates for their kids.
uAspire in the San Francisco Bay Area provides students with one-on-one support and resources to navigate the complex financial aid process to ensure students can find an affordable path to and through college.
Reminded of all that students have to figure out, I am grateful for the people who dedicate their time and talent to helping students reach their life goals. I hope you’ll learn more about these organizations, and those working in your community, and consider how you might support their work.