Did you know that in the state of Texas, only 56% of high school graduates immediately enter college after graduation? Of those students who enroll, 27% will not return for a second year (Feldman & Zimbler, 2011). At LSC-Kingwood, only 49% of students of students who enrolled in the fall of 2013 returned in the fall of 2014.
Why are the rates so low? For any student, college can be a scary place, and first generation college students face even more challenges. No one in their families can guide them through the web of processes -- applications, advising, financial aid, and even selecting classes – that can be overwhelming. Additional challenges like work schedules and financial issues can often cause students to give up.
To help these students achieve success, LSC-Kingwood has created the College Knowledge Corps, a program funded by AmeriCorps. Through this program, 2nd and 3rd year students, already successful in navigating the complexities of high school and college processes, can become AmeriCorps members and mentor high school or 1st year college students in skills that help them to have a positive college experience. Ultimately, as our members mentor others, their own knowledge of these skills will be reinforced, allowing the members to continue to the next step of their own education.
Members will mentor students in these 3 areas:
Academic strategies: Note taking, study, exam preparation, time management, and stress management are some of the skills needed to be productive students. These skills will be enhanced as members work with students in a group format, and will be reinforced in one-on-one sessions.
Process strategies: College attendance is dependent upon navigating processes such as applications, essays, FAFSA, financial aid verification, and course registration. Advising, textbook purchasing, and course selection can continue to be overwhelming, even after beginning classes. Members will work with students to answer questions and help them navigate the higher education bureaucracy.
Efficacy strategies: Obstacles and challenges are part of the college experience. Loss of a job, denial of financial aid, car breakdowns, illness, can often converge and cause students to give up. Mentors will work with participating students to develop their agency (self-worth and sense of power) through exercises such as power mapping, questioning strategies, and team building.
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