One Path Does Not Suit All
The College Promise mission is simple: we want students who may have otherwise not had the opportunity to attend college to have the ability to do so. This is why College Promise selects high-achieving students who demonstrate considerable financial need.
The process, however, is not always so simple. Just because a student has the aptitude to attend and graduate from college, it does not necessarily mean they plan to achieve that goal. Overall, about 95% of College Promise Scholars go on to higher education. The question that we often get asked is have we been successful?
In a few different ways, yes. The first is that college is not for everybody. In relative terms, 95% is an exceptionally high rate, when we consider county rates for that same population is 59%. In addition, those students will leave with little-to-no debt. That means if they do not graduate, they are not in a worse position than when they started (an ongoing concern, especially for students with certain risk factors). In terms of success, the county goal is that 60% of adults will have a credential with workforce value by 2025. Early indications show that College Promise completion rates align with that goal.
The other success factor that we do not often consider is that college is not for everybody. Some of our students have such significant life challenges that suggest graduating from high school is an accomplishment worth celebrating. In addition, many of our students not attending college have earned workforce credentials while in high school at one of the area Career Technology Centers or have decided to go into the military, a noble undertaking.
For mentors, a student not following the designed path can be frustrating. Know that we as mentors are still doing important work. How so? By putting this opportunity in front of them, by talking about the benefits of advanced education, by helping to address misinformed—often culturally instilled—ideas about higher education, by expanding the student’s cultural capital and in turn social mobility, etc.
The impact mentors have goes beyond whether or not they cross the finish line. While that may have been our goal when starting the program, there are many success points to celebrate along the way.