Why and How We Do it!
We came together because there was a need. We came together to pay it forward for those who helped us get to college. Open Access College Advising (OACA) was created to serve first-generation, low-income students and their families in navigating the college admissions process. All resources are free. Our primary service is FREE online college advising to students and families.
Our students come from underresourced and underperforming areas. We work with students in schools that had high counselor-to-student ratios (600:1 or great), where the median family income level was below 60k, and parent’s educational attainment (bachelor’s degree and beyond) was below 30%. There are are major issues of educational disparity in our communities and we intend to change that! Although our students come from these areas, we know they have the capacity for greatness. Their lived experience, resilience, and determination will be key in their future college success. What’s necessary is a catalyst. We hope to be that spark. In OACA, our work with students is based on three goals: to Empower, Energize, and Educate.
All services are free. So how do you take advantage?:
2) Provide Academic Information
3) Have access to computer with internet
4) Be able to meet three times in a six month period
How we do it:
Initial meeting: After reviewing the student’s demographic questionnaire and evaluating transcripts, we have a one-hour advising session. Utilizing Rogerian counseling techniques, we practice student-centered counseling providing genuine empathy, unconditional positive regard, and build self-advocacy skills.
During the meeting we get to know the student, build rapport, and begin to understand students motivations, dreams, and future aspirations. Knowing students’ academic profile, we can begin build a college for the student to apply to. We address topics such as academic majors, institution types, cost of attendance, importance of deadlines, and overall college admissions process.
Take-aways: College list with 5+ institutions to research and potentially apply, schedule of remaining testing dates, senior checklist, and schedule appointment for follow-up meeting.
Second meeting: This meeting is scheduled two weeks before primary institution’s application deadline, we meet to review checklist, revise college list, and answer any other questions students may have. We also discuss applying for scholarships, setting up pin to submit their FAFSA, and motivating them through the process. We provide feedback on personal statement and general college application responses.
Take-aways: Final college list, revised personal statement, help student setup FAFSA information and provide Cash for College workshop information, advice on searching and applying for colleges. Set up third meeting in early spring 2013.
Third meeting: Scheduled after the majority of decisions have been announced. We discuss fit of available options, review financial aid packages, and remind them of visit and admit student days.
Take-aways: Leave students with a game plan to visit/explore college admitted to, help students interpret FAFSA SAR/EFC, go over affordability, and help students navigate financial aid process with individual colleges.
Let us know what you think? Anything else we should add or other resources to provide?