In the aftermath of a Supreme Court Decision that gutted affirmative action, colleges and universities across the country are scrambling to adjust their admissions programs. There’s also some anxiety among prospective students and families about the road ahead.
Earlier this summer, the U.S. Department of Education gathered higher education leaders together for a summit where they discussed next steps as far as expanding opportunities for students of color and nontraditional students. Although the Supreme Court dissolved what many believed to be a valuable protection, all is not lost for students who want to attend college.
Below are some factors that college applicants, this year and in the years to come, can take into consideration as they pursue an affordable postsecondary education.
Pour Your Heart Out in Your College Essay
Even though colleges can no longer consider race as a factor in admissions, the U.S. Supreme Court said that applicants can use essays to explain how race and other identifiers have shaped their lives. For several years, the college essay has separated top applicants from the rest of the pack — all because they paint the picture of a person who can enhance campus life. Now’s the time for young people to be introspective about their experiences and life goals so they can craft an essay that really shows what they can contribute to their university community.
Test the Waters with Dual Enrollment and Other Programs
Whether they’re in the public school system or homeschooling, young people can experience the academic rigor of college courses and acquire college credit while doing so. Dual enrollment has become increasingly popular in recent years
as a cost-saving measure for families. Last school year, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and State Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant announced the launch of the Advanced Technical Center, through which high school students can also accumulate up to 20 college credits while taking nursing, health care IT, and cybersecurity courses.
Families seeking more information about dual enrollment programs can reach out to their child’s high school counselor, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, or even the admissions office at local colleges and universities, including the University of the District of Columbia and Prince George’s Community College.
Connect Early with Mentors Who’ve Been There
Programs like College Bound exemplify the mantra of “Each one, teach one.” For decades, middle school and high school students from D.C.-area public schools have navigated College Bound’s Academic Mentoring Program. In that program, they connect with college-educated professionals with whom they develop relationships and learn hard and soft skills that solidify their admission to the college of their choice. For years, 100% of students in College Bound have graduated high school and gained acceptance into the college of their choice. College Bound alumni have also gone on to enroll in College Bound’s Virtual Mentoring Program to ensure degree completion.
For more information or to become a mentor, visit collegebound.org.
Seek Out Money, Money and More Money
Since 2019, hundreds of District high school graduates have attended and graduated from more than a dozen U.S. colleges and universities for little to nothing. This is thanks to D.C. College Access Program (DC-CAP)’s University Partnership Scholarship.
Students who apply for the DC-CAP Scholarship and University Partnership Scholarship have the chance to enroll in any four-year institution of their choice and receive between $20,000 and $25,000 in financial support. The University Partnership Scholarship leverages DC-CAP funds, Pell Grants and the DC Tuition Assistance Grant to ensure that students receive as much aid as possible, and in some cases a full ride to attend one of the partner universities.
Students can even access DC-CAP resources as early as ninth grade when they enter the STEM Ready Scholarship Program where they sharpen skills needed to enter STEM-related fields and earn scholarships.
For more information about these and other programs, visit dccap.org/scholarships.