On August 4, 2012, ReServe kicked off its pilot College Success Coach Program, which will provide recent high school graduates with the mentoring they need to transition into and through their first year of college.
Funded by Open Society Foundations, the program will match 200 students with ten trained ReServist “College Success Coaches” to provide academic and career advising and on-campus support to first-year students enrolled at Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bronx Community College, Hostos Community College, Kingsborough Community College and LaGuardia Community College.
Throughout the year, participating students will receive direct college transition coaching and support including freshman orientation, course selection and registration, financial aid/FASFA, college transfers, and career development. In addition to these services, students will also be able to participate in bi-monthly seminars alongside their College Success Coaches, which will focus on critical college skills-building, such as time management, study, and self-advocacy skills.
The program was designed by ReServe after the successes of its existing education programs such as READY and Success Mentors that paired older adults with students. Research indicated that there were often many obstacles that prevented some students from successfully completing their first year of college even after many programs provided by schools, nonprofits and community based organizations, had helped students enroll into college. Some studies suggested that one-on-one mentoring by an adult could help students overcome these barriers.
The ReServe College Success Program hopes to help students manage issues such as the delay or loss of financial aid and acclimating to a rigorous college curriculum by connecting students to appropriate campus and community-based resources when needed. The ReServists will provide weekly check-in calls and conduct monthly visits as well as facilitate communication among students, parents, college administration and professors.
“I’m looking forward to serving as a guide and navigator to point the students in the right direction,” said ReServist Barbara Gieseler. “I want to be there to listen and empower the students to be more independent and be more productive.”
Barbara recently completed her third year with the READY AmeriCorps program and has helped hundreds of students apply for college and financial aid.
“I’m all over the place and need help to focus,” said Jonathan V. a student from Brooklyn who will be attending Kingsborough Community College to study graphic design. “I want help to stay organized and advice an how to approach my classes.”
“I’m really terrified. I heard it’s [college] hard,” said Ineyda L., a student from the Bronx who will be attending the Borough of Manhattan Community College to study nursing. “Any help I can get is needed,” she said.
Nearly 200 students were accepted into the program and applied directly or were nominated by their high schools during the past school year. All of the participating students graduated this past June with their high school diplomas.
“Community College is a beginning of a lot of possibilities,” said Euriphile Joseph, Chief Operating Officer at ReServe who will be overseeing the program.
“We want you go have the best grades possible, to have the best experience possible and to get the best opportunities you can when you graduate. These [ReServist] mentors will help you be successful.”
Paraphrasing Winston Churchill, ReServist Terry Kalish said, “We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give back.”