The Evolution of College Access: How We are Supporting Teens for Long-Term Success

  Students engage in interview practice.

Students engage in interview practice.

For the past twenty years, the college access programs all over Boston have focused their energy primarily on getting students into college. Energy and resources have been dedicated towards helping low-income and first generation students overcome the variety of obstacles that exist during the college admissions process. However, as the effectiveness of these programs increased, a new problem presented itself that had a dramatic effect on students all over the city; college completion. While students were getting into college at increasing rates, they were also dropping out of college without any degree and amassing tremendous debt. In many ways, students were worse off then they were before going.

In fact, “A 2008 study by Northeastern Universitys Center for Labor Market Studies (CLMS) and the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) found that only 35.5 percent of the BPS graduates from the Class of 2000 who had enrolled in college had completed college seven years later.” Even worse is that fact that “When the districts exam school students were excluded, the number of BPS graduates who had enrolled in college and had completed college within seven years fell to 24 percent (Sum, A. et al., 2008).”

  CITs participate in a college prep workshop focusing on planning the future.  

CITs participate in a college prep workshop focusing on planning the future.  

St. Stephen’s has been witnessing this firsthand, having watched several alumni over the years drop out of college saddled with debt because of a missed payment, a failed class, or a lack of support from the institution of higher education. The new vision of the College and Career Program at St. Stephens is to empower students to think through their future goals, and support their development of a post-high school plan. By changing the narrative that 4 year college is the only measure of success, we are able to help match students with a post-high school plan that best fits their personal goals, to help ensure long term success.

  Teens, Specialists, Site Assistants and Site Directors participate in a resume workshop.

Teens, Specialists, Site Assistants and Site Directors participate in a resume workshop.

Our goal is to not only support students through the college application process, but also to partner with schools like Bunker Hill, Wheelock, Northeastern, Pine Manor, Benjamin Franklin, and many more, to help ensure that students are supported throughout their entire post-high school experience. In addition, St. Stephen’s is hoping to continue to increase the ways in which we support our alumni through academic tutoring, mentoring, college visits, and much more. It is imperative that St. Stephen’s continue to provide the resources necessary in order to help our alumni overcome the vast number of obstacles that higher educations presents, in order to ensure that they are on a path towards successful adulthood. If you are interested in getting more involved in this program, you can e-mail Jeremy at Jeremy@ststephensbos.org.

By Jeremy Kazanjian-Amory, College and Career Program Coordinator

Jeremy graduated from Colorado College with a Degree in Political Science and Urban Studies in 2012. He comes to St. Stephen's through the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship program, an AmeriCorps program that focused fulfilling the needs of our youth by providing: a caring adult, a safe place, a healthy start, a marketable skill, and an opportunity to give back. Jeremy is passionate about increasing low-income students' access to higher education and helping students successfully complete their post-highschool plans. He currently serves as the College and Career Program Coordinator during the school year, and a Teen Staff Coordinator over the summer.