In New York City public high schools, on average, there is one school counselor for 221 students and many schools do not have a full time staff member devoted to postsecondary counseling.

A Peer-to-Peer Approach to Postsecondary Planning Support

CARA’s Right to College program addresses the postsecondary guidance gap for first-generation college students, low-income students, and students of color by training 11th and 12th graders as Youth Leaders who support their peers through the post-secondary exploration and college application process.

​​Youth Leaders most often work out of Student Success Centers, shared spaces on multi-school campuses run by community-based organizations in partnership with the schools they serve. Youth Leaders:

  • Develop and implement a plan to strengthen the culture of postsecondary exploration and planning in their school
  • Facilitate early awareness workshops for 9th and 10th graders
  • Support 11th and 12th graders to create well-balanced lists of postsecondary options
  • Work one-on-one with 25-50 12th graders on postsecondary application and financial aid processes.
  • Participate in CARA Right to College training to develop their own career pathways and skillset.

Peer-Led College Access Programming: A Profile of Student Success Centers in NYC

This report documents the evolution of “Student Success Centers.” This model of collaboration between schools and CBOs–with trained high school students at its center–grew out of advocacy efforts by young people. This report defines best practices for Student Success Centers and explains why their existence & growth is central to post-secondary access in NYC.

Right to College Program Model

  • Youth Leaders – carefully selected high school students that work under the supervision of CBO and/or school-based staff – have 70+ hours of comprehensive training in college access content. Training includes the following:

    Post Secondary Options:
    -Myths & Realities
    -Challenges to the College Process
    -Career Exploration
    -Key Policy Issues

    Search & Application Process:
    -College List Making
    -CUNY System
    -SUNY System
    -Private Colleges
    -Personal Statement Writing

    Career Pathway Development
    -Advocacy & Civic engagement
    -Self-Evaluation and goal setting in the workplace
    -Time Management
    -Work-life balance
    -Resume development

    Financial Aid:
    -Types of Aid
    -FAFSA Process
    -Financial Aid Packages
    -Opportunity Programs

    Working With Students:
    -Counseling Skills
    -Supporting Undocumented Students
    -Workshop Facilitation
    -Data Tracking

    Peer Leadership for College Access & Success Core Competencies

    Peer Leadership for College Access & Success Career Capacities

  • CARA provides coaching support to new and existing sites to develop strong partnerships in the following ways:

    Professional Development Support:

    • Coaching visits to guide the work being done and provide resources
    • Professional development series on college counseling and program development

    Support to Programming and Student Success Center (SSC) Development:

    • Development of systems for communication between SSC and schools
    • Materials created for each site as needed
    • Assistance planning campus-wide events and workshops
    • Collaborative sessions to plan Youth Leader training
    • Sharing of resources and opportunities to help SSC staff with program development and student support
    • Mid and end-of-year assessment using program rubrics developed by CARA

    Evaluation Support:

    • Data tracking support
    • Quarterly data snapshots with feedback
  • CARA supports furthering the development of our model through:

    • Collaboration with NYC Public School’s Office of Student Pathways to further develop the Student Success Center model and connect it to system-wide priorities and initiatives
    • Support for securing additional funds, as needed
    • Advocacy, in partnership with the Student Success Center Coalition, for continued funding
    • Advocacy within NYC Department of Education for recognition and resources for the model

How Right to College Works

See Right to College’s Program Rubric

See our Theory of Change Model

CBO and School(s) Establish Partnership

Hire appropriate staff to supervise Youth Leaders and manage postsecondary office

Develop collaborative approach between CBO and school(s), defining goals and action plan together and ensuring regular communication about program implementation and student progress

CBO and Schools Hire & Supervise Youth Leaders

Recruit and hire Youth Leaders (2/small school)

Pay Youth Leader for training and work time (minimum wage)

Provide regular supervision to Youth Leaders

School Provides Space & Time for Youth Leader Work

Establish a centrally located postsecondary office or Student Success Center

Identify periods of time in schedule for Youth Leaders to work with students in groups and one-on-one

Designate time in calendar for pathway exploration events

CBO and Schools Participate in Training & Evaluation

Ensure Youth Leaders and supervisors attend summer and academic year training

Participate in conference planning and facilitation

Track and report aggregate data to CARA and participate in assessments

Right to College Reach

137Peer Leaders being trained
41Participating sites
8000+Students being served

Right to College School & CBO Partners

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