Strive for College reaches out to high school students

February 3, 2014

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A new chapter of Strive for College, a national organization that pairs low-income high school mentees with university students to guide them through the college application process, recently launched at NYU.

The NYU chapter of Strive for College trains students to be mentors for high school juniors and seniors and pairs them with the mentees from one of four participating high schools in New York City.

Mentors help their mentees through every step of the college application process, such as identifying possible schools, filling out applications, writing personal essays, preparing for standardized tests and finding financial aid. The college students not only provide the high school participants with different resources, but also teach them how to effectively use those resources to aid their college search.

“We really want to focus on the relationship between the mentors and their mentees, and establishing a bond between the two,” said Brynn Sherman, CAS sophomore and director of curriculum for the NYU Strive for College chapter. “The mentors are the main resources for these kids, because they are not only giving their time but their experiences and knowledge as well.”

Mentors come from different social, economic and geographic backgrounds, which provides mentees with a wide range of college application experiences to draw from.

“What makes Strive for College so great is that not only have mentors gone through the college application process, but they have gone through the college application process fairly recently,” says Atish De, CAS sophomore and director of resources for the NYU Strive for College chapter. “We’re knowledgeable about what needs to be done, and what obstacles have to be overcome.”

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For many of the mentees in the program, college would not be a possibility without programs like Strive for College. Many high school students with a low-income background don’t think going to college is an attainable goal. Strive for College aims to change the way high school students view college.

“The interesting thing about many of these students is not that they don’t want to go to college, but that they actually believe they can’t go to college,” De says. “One of our biggest challenges is not helping them get into college, but proving to them that they have the potential to thrive and be successful in obtaining a higher level education.”

Mentors dedicate a lot of time to help ensure the success of their mentees. Besides their weekly meetings, mentors edit the mentee’s application and essay through an online server and exchange phone numbers and email addresses so mentees can be in contact whenever they have a question.

However, mentees are not the only participants who benefit from the Strive for College partnership.

“I couldn’t believe it when, every week, my student would sincerely thank me at the end of our session,” Sherman said. “For me this stuff was easy, because I had already been through it all. But they won’t get it any other way. When he thanked me, I realized what a difference this can really make in turning someone’s life around.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday Feb. 3 print edition.

Bryna Shuman is features editor. Email her at features@nyunews.com

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