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MAKING A DIFFERENCE : One Organization’s Approach: Get Parents to Help College Bound

College enrollment rates among white high school graduates have increased by more than 10% since 1980 but rates among African American and Hispanic high school graduates have remained largely unchanged. After helping their son successfully apply to college Andy and Johnnie Savoy of Cerritos wanted to share with other African American and underrepresented families the knowledge they gained about how to prepare their children for higher education. They organized College Bound, a counseling service, to offer college admission and scholarship support for underrepresented students in grades seven through college. At the program’s core is required parental participation. One Saturday morning each month students gather with their parents to learn about and prepare for the college application process. Students attend classes, usually taught by credentialled teachers, to sharpen their writing and test-taking skills while parents attend lectures and discussions led by experts in fields like adolescent health or financial aid. Since the program was established in 1990 enrollment has increased from 39 to more than 200 students, including 84 who are now in college. And College Bound has linked students with more than $170,000 worth of academic scholarships and summer enrichment programs held at universities and colleges throughout the country.

Counseling and instruction services

* Choose college preparatory courses from a high school curriculum

* Select a college

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* Complete college application materials

* Write essays

* Prepare for standardized tests like the SAT

* Find and apply for financial aid, scholarships, internships and summer academic enrichment programs

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U.S. high school graduates by race and ethnicity enrolled in college or completed one or more years of college:

White

1980: 51%

1991: 62%

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Black

1980: 46%

1991: 46%

Hispanic

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1980: 47%

1991: 48%

Source: U.S. Census

A PARENT’S VIEW

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Floy Hawkins

Los Angeles resident, educator and mother of four children who are involved with College Bound

There are kids and parents who seek support in the application to college because they are not getting satisfaction from their schools--especially to meet the needs that minority students experience. The biggest gap I personally experienced with my daughter is that the college counselor (at her high school) did not have the resources nor the interest to network to find opportunities designated specifically for minority students. For example, they did not encourage the minority students that there are educational services and programs that would give support to a student who might not qualify for regular admission or to help motivate them to make application.

I have a daughter who went to a private high school. I paid money for a college curriculum, and her counselor advised her to go to a two-year college. My daughter is now maintaining an above 3.0 GPA at UC Irvine as a result of College Bound intervention. And it’s not just my daughter--most of the students that come into College Bound have very high potential; the expectation from their families is there, but the expectation is not in the school for the minority child.

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I think College Bound provides parents with an awareness of the responsibility they must take to ensure their children’s college experience, that they cannot rely solely on the high school their child attends. College Bound is an arm that reaches to college campuses, connects them with students and touches parents to heighten their awareness of the type of commitment they must have.

Fortunately, college has always been a part of the recipe for my children. College Bound was another voice that came into my house, another voice in my children’s ears that college is important, that it is rewarding, that this is the way to get where you want to be.

A STUDENT’S VIEW

James Blake Wilson

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Senior at Loyola High School, Los Angeles

I go to an all boys’ school, predominantly white. With your counselor you can only get so much; a counselor has to deal with lots of students. College Bound offers direction and support. What’s behind it is to take you as far as you want to go in all your schooling, to whatever level you want--college, graduate school, medical school. I get to meet with and learn from people who understand me. It’s an important addition to my social circle and my cultural circle. It’s opened doors for me that I would have never seen.

College Bound is extremely important for the African American community because there’s a perception that African American males are either gang banging, selling drugs or doing something they’re not supposed to be doing. College Bound keeps us straight, gives us focus, puts us in an environment that is comfortable--you’re with your peers and it’s fun.

There’s been many times I’ve felt I’ve been on my own because my Mom may be working, and I don’t live with my father. With my Mom in College Bound with me I feel more emotional and mental support.

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Before this year I had never seen my Mom so into my work. Freshman and sophomore year I did well in school, and I would bring my report card home, and my Mom would say, “Good.” Junior year I joined College Bound and my Mom went to the meetings. She hears about what we go through and what we have to do as teen-agers today. Now she tells me to do homework. I see her walking into my room, asking if I have any homework to do, telling me to get off the phone. The fact that she got up, walked to my room and said it means the whole world to me.

TO GET INVOLVED

For information about College Bound call (310) 860-2127. College Bound expenses are financed by donations and proceeds from an annual student registration fee. Fee scholarships are available, and arrangements to obtain an adult mentor may be made for students whose parents are unable to participate in the program.


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