It’s been about 12 months since I started working with Access as their College Coordinator, and in those 12 months, I’ve come to learn a lot about working with students, managing and distributing information through various channels such as newsletters, Facebook pages, word of mouth, and many others, kept notes on services we could provide our students, and more. But the overall year was filled with repeat trial and error. From my experiences with the students, I have been able to distinguish what kinds of things would truly make an impact during their time in college. And it’s important to remember when thinking about these things that a college student’s time is taken up with so much more than just studying and mastering their academics. While this may be a key factor to their success, our students’ reach is much larger than that. As an organization, Access provides our students with the necessary resources to help reach that success. By providing services through health and wellness, academics, and professional/career development, our students are able to receive support in any aspect of their college life, regardless if it’s school related or personal.
Because Access is a 12-year program, we are able to assist them throughout their time in middle school and high school, further into their college education, and even a couple of years further after their graduation. With the help of my co-workers, our college students, and my personal experience as a student in college, I’ve been able to create Access Youth Academy’s college program.
THE COLLEGE PROGRAM
In short, our students first come into the program at the start of 7th grade, go through middle school and high school with the help of our Academic Coordinator, get through college, and continue on past their graduation from their universities with a degree in their hands. Seems pretty straightforward, but there are a lot of moving pieces in between that make it all come together. Because the program adds up to being 12 years (6 years in middle school and high school, 4 years in college, and 2 years post college), we call this the “12-year promise.” This extensive amount of time with our students allows us to prepare those in Phase 1 (middle school and high school) for the years in college ahead of them.
PHASE 2 AND 3
As college coordinator, I’m specifically in charge of Phase 2 and 3 of the program. These pertain to college freshman – seniors (Phase 2), and follows college graduates two years after their graduation (Phase 3).
Starting with Phase 1, Access begins to prepare their students for college by providing tutoring and guidance in order to better their chances at succeeding in Phase 2 and 3. Guidance includes a “College Readiness” program that allows the seniors to gain a full scope of what it’s like in college, from academics to building a social life, this college readiness program allows for these seniors to be better prepared for their freshman year.
Once in college, we’re there to help make our student’s lives a bit easier. Whether this be taking the stress away from a job interview through the help of our mentors and volunteers, providing an internship opportunity for the summer, helping our students network in the professional workforce, or help develop a personal career plan, Access guides our students through the various facets of their college lives.
While in Phase 2, our mission is to maximize our student’s academic experience, increase the amount of summer opportunities available to them, and focus on building and strengthening their future careers. Once our students graduate from their universities, our focus is more on personal development, their connection to the team, and on becoming ambassadors for themselves, the people around them, and Access Youth Academy as a whole. The idea is that by the time our students graduate from college, they’ll give back to the program through various ways such as mentorships, tutoring, volunteering or many others.
With all of this in mind, I took into account all the different aspects of “the college life” and put together what we call The College Program. What we had initially thought was an amazing idea, getting first generation college students to be as prepared and successful before college (and eventually through college) is all finally a reality. After ten years of operations, our first cohorts of Access students have finally reached a long awaited milestone: graduation. This means that as of this past month in May, we officially have graduated these students onto phase 3, making them the first to graduate from their universities and moved onto the workforce, graduate school, and many others.
I’m excited to see what this position has to bring in the upcoming months.
Looking back on these past eight years that I’ve been a student at Access, and now as college coordinator for the program, it’s great seeing all my teammates whom I once practiced with reach great success.
Wishing you all the best in your futures!
Access Youth Academy College Coordinator