CARA’s College Inquiry program works to develop a comprehensive college-going infrastructure for high schools that supports first-generation college students, low-income students, and students of color from post-secondary exploration, to application, to enrollment.
The College Inquiry program embeds college and career exploration in all grades through a comprehensive, field-tested curriculum. We work deeply with a school’s leadership, teachers, and counselors’ to build capacity around college access in order to increase students’ enrollment into good match colleges.
CARA’s College Inquiry Coaches work closely with school staff to create a plan for change that is tailored to each school’s strengths. Our flexible coaching approach allows schools to adapt the curriculum and model to fit a range of school sizes and types. After 3-4 years of coaching, schools have built the capacity to continue this work on their own.
College Inquiry Program Model
View Table of Contents for Professional Development Tools
Building staff capacity to support students through early college exploration and the stumbling blocks of the college process is a key part of College Inquiry’s whole-school model.
- Consistent coaching for team members on the planning and development of college access programming. Coaches are experienced teachers and school counselors deeply familiar with the landscape of New York’s public schools
- Professional development, both whole staff and for targeted teams, engages staff members beyond those in the school’s College Office
- Resources to develop administrators’ ability to lead post-secondary work
- Research-based staff and student surveys to guide programming
View our High School Curriculum Table of Contents
- Flexible, multi-year curriculum
- Lesson plans available in print and online
- Engaging, inquiry-based lessons designed for first-generation students
- Tailored scope and sequence
- Lessons can be embedded in advisory, college and career seminars, and/or academic classes
The curriculum develops students’ experiences in four areas:
- Mapping the Landscape of College
- Understanding the College Application Process
- Paying for College
- Exploring Careers
The structure and rationale for CARA’s curriculum is based on current research into access to higher education as well as the collective experience of our staff as practitioners in a diverse range of New York high schools.
View Our College Office Resources Table of Contents
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, and empower counselors to become true leaders of post-secondary access work at their school. This includes:
- Putting strong, efficient systems in place;
- Tracking milestones;
- Connecting with college professionals;
- Troubleshooting during the financial aid process;
- Collaborating with other staff, students, and families
See College Inquiry’s Program Rubric
How College Inquiry Works
School administration identifies possible instructional spaces for college access curriculum
School assembles small team of administrators, teachers, and counselors
CARA Coach and team assess existing college access work, identify goals, and create school action plan
Team creates curriculum scope and sequence
Surveys for students and staff examine knowledge and attitudes
Whole staff professional development to build knowledge and engagement
Coach supports the college office, developing their systems and providing tools and resources
PD for large and small staff groups, based on areas of need
Guidance for administrators on supporting and supervising college access work
Reflect and Revise
Mid and end-of year reports and retreats allow for reflection on goals
Annual curriculum map revision
At the end of a 3-4 year engagement, results in a self-sustaining college access program with a lasting curriculum scope and sequence
College Inquiry Reach
Sites + Partnerships
College Inquiry Curriculum & Resources
CARA partner schools can log in to access College Inquiry curriculum and resources by clicking the button below.
Looking for online curriculum during school closure? A free College Inquiry lesson that takes students on a “virtual” college tour is available here.