College advising is “theoretically sound,” said Taylor. “But (the data analysis) is going to add to the fact that it’s more than theoretically sound. It’s practical.”
• Persuade students to take standardized tests. “Some of the kids who have taken their SATs and their ACTs find out they’re a lot smarter than they thought they were,” said Taylor.
• Entice male students, especially those of Hispanic and African-American descent, to seek an education beyond high school. Some college advisers talk with male teenagers about careers in technology, such as working with lasers or in video game programming.
• Steer students to helpful websites. BigFuture.comlists majors and activities so aspiring collegians can pick institutions that offer what they want to pursue.
• Arrange college fairs at their schools. Sometimes 60 institutions will send representatives to these campus events, which is a common occurrence at high schools with large college-bound student bodies. But some college advisers are assigned to schools that never had such events until they arrived.
A former Community Scholar at TCU, Trejo was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. At 3-years-old, he moved to Texas with his parents.
For the second year, he is advising at Fort Worth’s Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School – the same school he attended.
“I wanted to give back something I never had, said Trejo about returning to his old neighborhood.
Last year Trejo helped a student with an Ivy League college application. Now the young man is a freshman with a full academic scholarship at Harvard University.
“If I made it, you can make it, especially now that you have more opportunities, more resources than I did,” said Trejo, who graduated with a TCU degree in criminal justice.
Many high school students have to deal with tough personal trials. Last year, a female high school student planned to attend the University of North Texas. Just before graduation, a random shooter killed her mother. A few weeks later, her father died. Trejo kept encouraging the young woman, who received a college full scholarship, to continue with her education.
Nguyen is a first-generation college student, and a former Community Scholar at TCU. Her parents emigrated from Vietnam.
After seeing how much of an impact she had on young people’s lives during her first year with the program, Nguyen said her whole focus changed. “Why not share your wealth? Why not share your knowledge?”
She discovered that sometimes a 17-year-old student is the main source of income for his or her family, and education takes a back seat. “I didn’t realize how adult these kids have to be,” said Nguyen. “I always thought a student was a student.”
Nguyen, who works at Dunbar High School in Fort Worth, is working on her master’s degree in educational leadership. While her graduate studies are different from her undergraduate degree in environmental science, she tells her high school students that post-secondary education is often a meandering path, not a destination.
A second-year college adviser at Lake Worth High School, located in a Fort Worth suburb, Rosales earned a degree in psychology at TCU.
“The chance that you can give back … it’s just rewarding,” said the former Community Scholar and Fort Worth native about her experience at Lake Worth.
But not every student outcome is successful. While helping a student with a financial aid applications, the young man discovered he was living in Texas without legal documents. “He was really upset,” said Rosales. The student disappeared, discouraged about his future.
As part of her duties, Rosales organized a visit to a college campus for her students. The trip to Denton took 40 minutes, but many of the high school students had never left Lake Worth. “They got to see how different the world really is outside of their bubble,” she said.
Numbers and Facts
2005: College Advising Corps started at the University of Virginia, with financial support from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.
Two years: Maximum length of service in the program
2014-15, National Corps
450 college advisers
500 high schools
2014-15, TCU Program
25 college advisers
3 in West Texas
9 in Tarrant County or Irving
13 in Fort Worth high schools
10,000: Minimum numbers of high school
First-Generation College Students
The U.S. Department of Education found that first-generation students were only half as likely as their peers to expect an education beyond high school.