College Inquiry

CARA’s College Inquiry program works to develop a comprehensive college-going infrastructure for schools that supports first-generation college students, low-income students, and students of color from post-secondary exploration, to application, to enrollment.

Our goal is to embed post-secondary exploration in a student’s regularly scheduled day, starting in 9th grade, so that by 12th grade they can undertake a well-informed college application process. We provide a comprehensive, field-tested curriculum and work with teachers and staff to build capacity around college access in order to increase students’ enrollment into good match colleges and positively influence their persistence rates.

After 3-4 years, schools we work with have built the capacity to continue this work on their own.

Our Impact

300 Staff being trained in 2019-2020
42 Participating sites
18000 Students being served

College Inquiry Components

    • Consistent coaching over 3 -4 years for designated staff members on post-secondary program development. Coaches are experienced teachers, counselors, and curriculum developers familiar with the landscape of New York City public schools.
    • Ongoing professional development for staff.
    • Resources for school leadership to support programming.
    • Our coaching approach allows schools to adapt the curriculum and model to a range of school sizes and types, including P-Tech/Early College and CTE, Consortium, Outward Bound, and International schools.


    View Our Resources For Leaders Table of Contents
    • Multi-year curriculum, print and online
    • Inquiry-based lessons designed for first-generation college students
    • Tailored scope and sequence
    • Research-based student and staff surveys to evaluate and guide programming

    The curriculum develops students’ experience in four areas:

    1. Mapping the the Landscape of College
    2. Exploring Careers
    3. Understanding the College Application Process
    4. Paying for College

    View a part of a sample lesson or a sample curriculum map.

    View our High School Curriculum Table of Content
    • Resources for counselors to support post-secondary planning and application process
    • Coaching to college counselors to support one-on-one & whole school programming
    • Enroll NYC data tracking system and implementation support
    View Our College Office Resources Table of Contents
  • CARA has partnered with FMYI to develop a student-focused tracking tool that organizes all of the steps students need to complete from application to enrollment.

    Enroll NYC allows college offices to keep track of the multiple tasks that each student must complete in order to successfully enroll in college. This type of individual tracking is an essential function of college counseling for first-generation college students. Taken in aggregate, tracking this extensive set of metrics across our schools and programs allows us to dig deeper into understanding key benchmarks that may lead to increased rates of postsecondary enrollment. CARA then shares these findings with our school and community partners, as well as with the wider community in NYC and beyond.

    Learn More

What College Inquiry Looks Like In Practice

Select Team

School assembles College Inquiry Team


CARA coach and team assess existing college access work, identify goals, and create action plan for the school


Coach facilitates the team’s ongoing work to implement curriculum in all grades


Coach supports counseling staff on the college application process and develops the college office, providing tools and resources

Reflect and Revise

At the end of each year the team reflects and revises the curriculum map, resulting in a sustainable college access program and lasting scope and sequence at the end of a three year engagement

View case studies of College Inquiry’s work in schools here and here.

Frequently Asked Questions About College Inquiry

Thinking College Inquiry could be right for your school? Explore our FAQs to learn more about the program

  • What is the commitment needed to become a College Inquiry school partner?

    • Principal buy-in and participation in program development
    • College Inquiry Team, including staff from each grade and school administration, to work monthly with the Coach
    • A school-based liaison to serve as a contact person for the CARA Coach
    • 10 coaching days the first two years, with time commitment tapering in year three
    • Dedicated time in the school schedule across all grades for implementation of College Inquiry Curriculum
    • Time set aside for at least 2 all staff PDs per year on the topic of college access, and additional time for targeted smaller group PD
  • What is the College Inquiry curriculum like?

    We believe in using inquiry-based lessons beginning in 9th grade to build students’ familiarity with the college search and application process

    The curriculum develops students’ experience in four areas:

    1. Mapping the the Landscape of College
    2. Exploring Careers
    3. Understanding the College Application Process
    4. Paying for College

    View a part of a sample lesson or a sample curriculum map.

    View Our High School Curriculum Table of Contents
  • What resources does CARA offer counselors?

    CARA coaches ground their support of the college office with tangible tools and templates to support enrollment. Our College Office Resources are made by counselors, for counselors, and provide tools for staff to move beyond helping students with access steps. Putting strong, efficient systems in place; tracking milestones; troubleshooting during the financial aid process; and collaborating with other staff, students, and families – all empower counselors to become true leaders of post-secondary access work at their school.

    View our College Office Resources Table of Contents
  • What kind of professional development do CARA partner schools receive?

    Building staff capacity so that teachers have the knowledge to actively engage students and support them through the stumbling blocks to college is a key part of College Inquiry’s whole-school model. We recommend two staff-wide PD sessions per year as well as sessions for smaller, targeted staff teams based on their needs. Coaches can help your school develop an appropriate multi-year sequence. While our coaches may initially lead the professional development, we aim to equip administrators and teacher leaders to plan and facilitate their own sessions through our library of PD sessions which can be found in Resources for Leaders.

    View our Resources for Leaders Table of Contents

Sites + Partnerships

College Inquiry Curriculum & Resources

CARA partner schools can log in to access College Inquiry curriculum and resources by clicking the button below.

Access College Inquiry Curriculum & Resources

Looking for online curriculum during school closure? A free College Inquiry lesson that takes students on a “virtual” college tour is available here.