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Young Leadership Council guides young New Orleanians through college admissions process

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For high school seniors, the college admissions process can be an exciting, if not an overwhelming task. And for many young New Orleanians, the challenge can be even greater. Maybe you’re the first in your family to go to college…maybe college doesn’t seem like an option because of finances…maybe there’s no one to help, support, and encourage you through the process.
Local non-profit and non-partisan organization, The Young Leadership Council, is looking to help those particularly vulnerable young New Orleanians with their College Admissions Project (CAP). “The College Admissions Project helps high school seniors from New Orleans public schools gain access to higher education,” explained Lindsey B. Jakiel and Aneesha Marwah, CAP Project Leaders (PL). “We focus on low-income and/or first generation students. Given the student population enrolled in public high schools in New Orleans, we also predominantly work with students of color. The goal of CAP is to help students through the often confusing and time-consuming college admissions and enrollment processes, and help them make a successful transition from high school to college. In addition, we want to increase the college-going rate of students from our partner high schools and help the schools develop a college-going culture.”
Strictly volunteer-based, CAP recruits young New Orleans professionals with college degrees to mentor local high school students in need of assistance with college preparations. “Each CAP student is paired with a mentor, whom we call a guide. Students and guides are matched based on gender, as well as taking their career and other interests into account. CAP facilitates an initial meet and greet between the guide, the student, and the student’s parents/guardians. After the meet and greet, each guide/student pairing meets in person a minimum of once a month and does e-mentoring by phone, text, email, Facebook, or Google chat a minimum of once per week. Guides help their students with many aspects of the college application process, such as developing a college list, researching and applying for schools, signing up and preparing for the ACT/SAT, working on college essays, researching scholarship opportunities, and completing the FAFSA for financial aid.” 
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CAP currently partners with Warren Easton Charter High School and The International High School of New Orleans. Students from these schools are eligible to submit an application to receive a CAP guide regardless of their academic records, including GPA or test scores. “CAP is focused on low-income and/or first-generation college students. We consider a student low-income if they are eligible for free or reduced school lunches. A student is considered first-generation if no one in their immediate family has attended college. We work with the school counselors to determine which students to work with.” As former mentors, Lindsey and Aneesha have seen their own CAP students make the successful transition from high school to college. Lindsey’s CAP student is now enrolled at Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, TX and Aneesha’s student at Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA.
In the future, CAP hopes to be able to support their CAP alumni once they have transitioned into college life. “We would like to track CAP alumni to see how they are succeeding in college and connect CAP students to each other if they enroll at the same college, creating a peer-mentor network among CAP alumni. We would also like to work with more schools in the future. CAP's long-term goal is to reach program capacity by offering the program to cohorts of 25-30 students at 4 to 5 high schools in New Orleans.”
“This year, we also incorporated a college tour exclusively for CAP kids, in which 52 of our 59 kids attended. They visited SUNO, UNO, Dillard and Xavier. We hope to grow this and perhaps add a visit to Baton Rouge schools in the future. We also budgeted to be able to provide a fee waiver to each CAP student this year, which will better help our tracking as well as being a great help to the student and his/her family.”
Are you or someone you know interested in becoming a guide with the College Admissions Project? Well, they’re always looking for volunteers! “Volunteering as a guide is extremely rewarding! First-generation college students, in particular, often need more assistance with the college admissions process since they do not have someone in their immediate family who has direct experience with higher education. When a CAP student gets an acceptance letter to a college, it is a great moment for the student and his/her guide. CAP guides often fondly recall their own college experiences, and helping someone else get to college so they too can have that experience is very rewarding. Although CAP asks for an academic year commitment, there have been guides who keep in touch with their CAP student once the student is enrolled in college and help them succeed in college.”
For more information about the Young Leadership Council’s College Admissions Project, please visit the website.
Last modified on Wednesday, 09 January 2013
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