College Possible helps students achieve college dreams
by megan hopps
SUN PRESS Newspapers
High school is a busy time in an upperclassman’s academic career. On top of after school clubs, sports, work and a social life students also have to wrestle with questions about their future.
The first of these questions involves a college education; the second involves the process of getting there. For students with an aspiration to attend college, they must first be accepted. But before that, comes college visits, ACT tests and figuring out which schools offer the right majors at the right price.
This fall, 40 juniors at Champlin Park High School are participating in the College Possible program. College Possible Twin Cities is a program that makes college admission and success possible for low income students through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support. The program is already functioning at Coon Rapids High School as well as numerous other schools throughout the state. Founded in 2000 and based in St. Paul, College Possible served 35 students in its first year. Since then, the program has grown to reach 15,000 students nationwide, adding school partners in the Columbia Heights, Robbinsdale, St. Louis Park, Osseo, Bloomington and Anoka Hennepin Districts. With the addition of Champlin Park High School, College Possible now serves more than 1,600 students in 20 partner high schools in the Twin Cities.
Program Director, Lara Dreier explains how College Possible plans to improve the college transition process for Champlin Park High School students.
“The students will go through a curriculum that involves team building and lots of ACT prep such as test taking strategies and content review,” said Dreier. They’ll learn how to format essays and we will provide them with information about two and four-year universities.”
Dreier is excited that the program is expanding to Champlin Park High School and said that the school has been tremendously supportive of the program.
To help the students succeed, 59 AmeriCorps members will commit more than 100,300 hours of service as coaches on high school and college campuses.
With the help of coach Emily Stakken, Champlin Park students will learn how to overcome common obstacles aspiring college students face.
“The transition to college is always a big step; there’s always some adjustment to get out of your ‘bubble,’ ” said Stakken. “For some, the adjustment comes relatively quickly and easily, but for others it can be pretty rocky and take a little longer.”
As a recent college grad, Stakken is determined to help high school students adjust to college life and succeed in ways they thought they couldn’t.
“I had a great college experience and I think every student deserves to have that as well,” said Stakken.
This is Stakken’s first year with College Possible. Currently, she is the only coach at Champlin Park that works with high school juniors. Next year, Stakken will work with the same students through their senior year and a new coach will come in to work with the new junior class.
“It’s been such a privilege working with them so far, they’re very smart and bright and ready to dive head first into the program,” said Stakken. “They’ve shown amazing spirit and dedication and I’m so excited to see just how each of their unique stories will unfold.”
To qualify to participate in the College Possible program students must have a 2.0 GPA or higher and come from low-income families. Students who receive free reduced lunch or fall below 200 percent on the poverty guidelines will be eligible.
College Possible students meet twice per week in after school sessions during their junior and senior years of high school. Later, evening sessions will also be available for students who participate in extracurricular activities. Coaches support students in small learning groups and in one-on-one sessions, providing free ACT/SAT test preparation, intensive guidance in preparing college applications, help in obtaining financial aid and guidance in the transition to college. After graduation, students receive support from college coaches renewing their FAFSA, getting connected to existing resources on campus, and searching for scholarships and internships. Coaches continue to serve the students through the remainder of their high school and college years.
Coaches work with students to set academic goals and to keep them motivated throughout the entire process if disappointments arise.
The program is completely privately funded with no cost to Champlin Park High School or the district.
Contact Megan Hopps at [email protected]