DC Public Schools launches college-bound graduate support network

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Dive Brief:

  • D.C. Public Schools recently launched a support network program for 2020 college-bound high school graduates, The D.C. Post reports.The program, called DCPS Persists, will offer career and college support to hundreds of students.
  • The program gives college-bound graduates a connection to a network where they can give and receive tips and form career networking contacts. A DCPS Persists coach connects with each graduate to offer academic and financial guidance, and coaches will work with students throughout their first year of college to answer questions and keep them on track. Participants also get a precollege orientation and receive a monthly alumni publication. 
  • The program is being funded by a $10 million donation from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation.

Dive Insight:

Such programs can increase diversity in colleges by creating college pathways for underrepresented minorities. In Boston, College Bound is a precollege enrichment program designed to increase college diversity. A group of 50 to 60 students in 7th through 12th grade attend sessions at Boston College’s campus every other Saturday and spend the day working on STEAM projects and taking social justice classes. The program also includes college and career preparation.

After schools closed, many college-bound seniors may have been left without direction solidifying college plans. The group College Advising Corps recommends schools reach out to graduating seniors and see how far along they are in the college preparation process. Students may need more help now that scholarships might have dried up, may now have ill family members or may be working to help their family pay expenses. 

Research shows completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) increases the chance students will enroll in college, but FAFSA applications are down by about 400,000 this year as compared to a typical year. Offering graduates remote help navigating FASFA and college financial aid forms, as well as institutions’ new later acceptance deadlines, can help them get started in the fall.

Many families are more concerned about paying for college during this time of high unemployment rates and economic uncertainty. According to one report, 69% of parents and 55% of college-bound seniors surveyed said the impact of COVID-19 has affected their ability to pay for college. A Lending Tree report also found 40% of parents tapped their child’s college fund to help cover expenses during the pandemic.

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