Research and experience tell us that five factors have a significant impact on college completion:
The right match and fit between student and college
Financial literacy, to understand and navigate college affordability
Successful social and academic integration into the college environment
KIPP NYC and the KIPP Through College team are laser-focused on these indicators, and on providing critical mentoring and support services to help our alumni make it to and through college.
- College Advisory Services. All KTC alumni are assigned advisors after they graduate from KIPP schools. Guided by a comprehensive playbook of best practices, our advisors contact students at least monthly and visit them on campus as well. Our advisors – coaches, mentors and confidants – are the heart of our college support program: they build critical relationships with each alum, staying close enough to track students’ course loads, study habits, and academic performance, and keep tabs on their social integration, financial status, and family situations. KTC advisors also reach out to alumni who are potentially stalled on their school and career paths. By building relationships that yield a detailed understanding of each alum’s circumstances, our advisors are able to help them address specific issues as they arise, steer them toward resources and solutions and teach them how to better advocate for themselves.
- College Counseling and Placement Services. KTC advisors provide intensive college preparation beginning junior year in high school. Alumni participate in SAT preparation, writing classes, and a Summer Pre-College Prep Program in which they work on their personal statements, visit colleges in and around the New York area, and meet visiting college admission officers in small group sessions. The focus of this process: identifying the “right fit” college for each student, academically, socially and financially.
- College Transition Programs. The Summer Bridge Program during the spring and summer of high school senior year prepares incoming college freshmen for the college experience. We train students in the rigorous study skills and habits of mind they need for college. Alumni learn about the “dos and don’ts” of college social life, how to write effective research papers, where to get help with financial aid and how to manage a conflict with roommates. We hold these sessions on an urban college campus, to simulate a true college experience.
- Career Preparation. “Through college” is our objective, but it’s just the beginning for our alumni. So our focus on college completion is supplemented by career preparation and exploration events, internship programs and other services designed to help our alumni take successful next steps post-college. Underlying these program components is a common focus on data. We’ve invested heavily in developing systems and processes that enable us to track every touch point with our alums, as well as their academic histories, college and scholarship applications, faculty recommendations, course syllabi, college transcripts, summer internships and other inputs and indicators.
Our Challenge: Getting Bigger and Better
Today, KIPP Through College serves 1,240 alumni, and we’re on track to serve nearly 1,600 by 2019. At the same time, we intend to increase the percentage of our students who earn a college degree, from 40% to 75%.
We recognize that achieving this big goal will require more than continuously improving our current programming. We believe the following initiatives will be an important part of the answer in the years to come:
- College Partnerships. We’re committed to helping our alumni gain admission to colleges that are uniquely committed to their success. Toward that end, in cooperation with the KIPP Foundation, we have developed partnerships with select colleges that demonstrate deep commitments to our alumni, including pre-college programming, scholarships, and differentiated on-campus support services. Our first KIPP NYC college partners are Hunter, Mercy, Kingsborough, Lehman and City Colleges, as well as Southern Vermont College, which boasts 10 KIPP Alumni Mountaineer Scholars.
- KTC+ – Getting Exponentially Better. As we double the number of KIPP NYC alumni we serve in the coming years, budget constraints will prevent us from meaningfully growing our staff. Nonetheless, we must continue to build deep, effective relationships with our alumni. We believe the answer to our scale challenge lies in augmenting our full-time KTC staff with volunteer mentors who work with our students in high school and college. We’re currently piloting a mentoring program, which allows us to replicate our Advising program across our KIPP NYC Team and Family, with 12 full time KIPP NYC staff committing their time to support 48 college freshmen.
- KIPPSTER.org Technology plays a critical role in navigating our growth and in how we connect and serve our alumni. To that end, we launched kippster.org, an online community that provides content and community tools to add further support to our alumni through their advisors and their peers.