Wednesday, December 10, 2008

College Support Programs in Beantown

Today's Boston Globe ran a terrific story ('College Counselors Fill Role Of Parent') by James Vaznis about Boston-based nonprofits that support area students in applying to, enrolling in, and graduating from college. Most of these students are low-income and first-generation college go-ers, a population much less likely to attend and achieve a degree. One of these nonprofits is the 11-year-old Bottom Line, located in Jamacia Plain ("JP").

As part of a bold effort to boost dismal college graduation rates for Boston public school alumni, city leaders and philanthropists are banking on a heavy expansion of Bottom Line and other nonprofits to get more college degrees into the hands of city residents.

Many of the nonprofits cater to low-income students who often are the first members of their family to attend college. While a few programs are devoted to the city's elite college preparatory exam schools, Bottom Line and others also serve a large number of students from the city's less prestigious high schools, where many graduates enter college ill-prepared.

In a way, the counselors in these groups equip Boston students with a powerful force taken for granted by many of their affluent peers: They fill the role of parents who closely monitor their children's progress in college and have the knowhow or the connections to cut through bureaucratic red tape when problems arise.

Here's a shout-out to my pal Elizabeth Pauley (quoted in the Globe story) at the Boston Foundation, one of the groups funding this and related work to boost the city's high school graduation rates. Nice work. Go Celtics!

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