Building a college-going culture in low-income high schools

February 2013 │ New York

College Summit harnesses peer influence to encourage college enrollment

As modern job markets increasingly demand college-educated workers, few can afford to forgo post-secondary education. Yet college access remains a problem in many low-income communities, which often lack the resources and knowledge to help its young adults successfully plan and enroll for higher education.

College Summit assists under-resourced high schools in building a college-going culture. The nationwide nonprofit seeks to increase college access and readiness for low-income students through a school-wide approach. College Summit enrolls all seniors in its partner high schools in a college preparatory program that guides the students through the application process. The course covers financial planning, personal statements and other important topics to insure that all students are well-equipped for their next steps. College Summit trains counselors to lead the courses and to ensure that students are being best supported to achieve college enrollment.

College Summit’s Peer Leaders program is based on the understanding that young peers are particularly influential in students’ lives and aims to unlock student potential through a carefully selected group of fellow classmates. The program recruits and trains the school’s most influential students, who are enrolled in summer workshops where they complete their own college applications and are trained to become peer leaders. Upon returning to school, the peer leaders contribute to a college-focused culture, providing their classmates with application assistance and active encouragement.

College Summit New York was established in 2005, and currently reaches 5,000 students in 40 schools. There are currently 400 peer leaders in 30 schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.

Deutsche Bank is supporting a College Summit New York pilot that extends peer leaders' work to 9th-11th graders in three NYC schools. The pilot is based on research that demonstrates that college readiness is best achieved when the knowledge and skill-building begins in 9th grade or earlier. Following the pilot year, College Summit plans to extend the Peer Leader expansion to the entire NY school network in 2014-15. If successful, it will serve as a national replication model throughout the College Summit system.

To learn more about College Summit, please visit its website. Click here to view Education Week video about the nonprofit.

Peer leaders participate in a College Summit workshop. enlarge

Peer leaders participate in a College Summit workshop.

Peer leaders participate in a College Summit workshop.

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Last Update: March 9, 2016
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