Young Alumni to Help Low-Income Students Go to College

Recent Carolina graduates will help advise low-income high school students as part of a new $10 million partnership. Carolina is one of 10 colleges and universities joining the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation in creating the program, which will be headquartered at UNC.

The network of programs created through the partnership – to be called the National College Advising Corps – aims to help low-income students enroll in college.

The University will receive $1 million over four years to create the Carolina College Advising Corps, which will place recent UNC graduates as college advisers in 18 partner high schools across the state. These advisers will help students plan their college searches, complete admissions and financial aid applications, and overcome obstacles that might discourage them from continuing their education. UNC will contribute nearly $700,000 to the program, which aims to boost the number of low-income and first-generation-college students enrolling in two- and four-year colleges and universities.

“The heart of this program will be our graduates – smart, enthusiastic alumni who’ll be eager to build relationships with students and faculty at our partner schools,” said Stephen Farmer, assistant provost and director of undergraduate admissions at UNC and principal investigator on the grant. “Because their own college experiences will be fresh on their minds, they’ll be ready to serve – to walk with students as they take the steps they’ll need to take to enroll in college.”

“We are grateful for the continued support of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation,” said Chancellor James Moeser. “This program will help smart, deserving students find their way to college. We’re honored to host the headquarters for this national effort, and we will do everything we can to make this program work for students and schools in North Carolina.”

The Carolina College Advising Corps is modeled on the successful College Guide Program at the University of Virginia, whose founding director, Nicole Hurd, will direct the national corps from UNC’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions. This national office, a partnership among the University, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and the National College Access Network, will support the programs in place at UNC, Virginia and nine other colleges and universities. It will also encourage other schools to launch similar efforts.

Following the tradition of the Teach For America and AmeriCorps programs, the colleges and universities in the National College Advising Corps will recruit and train recent graduates to work full time as advisers in their states for one to two years after graduation. Beginning in August, four recent UNC graduates will serve as advisers in eight schools in Alamance, Chatham, Durham and Guilford counties. When fully implemented in August 2008, a total of nine Carolina advisers will serve 18 high schools from Ahoskie to Charlotte, including 14 schools threatened with closure last year under the state’s Leandro ruling.

“North Carolina has worked hard, with considerable success, to increase the percentage of students who continue on to college,” said Howard Lee ’66 (MSW), chair of the State Board of Education and a former state senator. “By placing recent college graduates in these high-priority high schools, the Carolina College Advising Corps will undoubtedly help the state continue to make gains in this vital sector.”

Principals whose schools will be Carolina’s partners in the new program expressed enthusiasm with the initiative and its possibilities.

“We look forward to welcoming the Carolina advisers,” said Earl Pappy, principal of Hillside High School in Durham.  “These advisers will not only enhance the services we offer to students at Hillside, they will serve as a daily reminder of the importance of going on to college.”

Meg Sheehan, co-principal at Hugh M. Cummings High School in Burlington, said, “We are extremely excited about the possibilities of the program as well as the opportunities it presents for the students in our school. We believe it will help our students plan ahead in pursuit of their dreams.”

The national office at UNC will support and direct the National College Advising Corps programs at Carolina and at the following campuses, each of which is being granted $1 million from the foundation to partner in this initiative: Brown University, Franklin and Marshall College, Loyola College in Maryland, Pennsylvania State University, Tufts University, the University of Alabama, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Missouri System and the University of Utah.

The partnership builds on another collaboration between the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and UNC: In March 2006, the foundation supported the creation of the Carolina Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP), which aims to improve both access and success for low- to moderate-income students transferring to Carolina from Alamance Community College, Durham Technical Community College and Wake Technical Community College. C-STEP was featured in the March/April 2007 issue of the Carolina Alumni Review in an article titled “Worth the Wait.”

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