Univ. to aid low-income students

The Yale admissions office will partner with two non-profit organizations this year the help low-income students better prepare for the college application process, officials announced earlier this month.

In 2007, the Yale Office of Undergraduate Admissions will join with QuestBridge and College Summit to facilitate access to higher education, Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel said. Yale will participate in QuestBridge’s nationwide program that matches high-achieving, low-income students with prestigious universities and financial grants. They will also host a four-day College Summit training session for high school guidance counselors and students to help high schoolers who would not normally consider college learn about the application process. While these initiatives will not necessarily target prospective Yale students, administrators and students agreed that the partnerships will be valuable contributions to national low-income outreach efforts.

Student ambassador Robert Sanchez ’08 sets up a high school visit as part of the ambassador program, one of Yale’s efforts to broaden its applicant pool.
Jonathan Jimenez
Student ambassador Robert Sanchez ’08 sets up a high school visit as part of the ambassador program, one of Yale’s efforts to broaden its applicant pool.

Brenzel said the admissions office recognizes that working with these organizations will help low-income students overcome some of the most significant barriers they face in their pursuit of education after high school, namely a lack of access to information and college counseling. Although Yale’s need-based financial aid program has made college a more realistic option for lower-income students, many are unaware of such opportunities, he said.

“QuestBridge gives us a way to bring more top low-income students to Yale, while College Summit provides us the opportunity to use resources at Yale and at the undergraduate admissions office to help more low-income students find their way to a broad range of colleges and universities,” Brenzel said.

QuestBridge is a non-profit organization founded by Stanford alumni to identify high-achieving, low-income students nationwide, assist them with their applications and help them identify competitive colleges they would like to attend. Through the College Match Program, in which Yale will participate, high school seniors chosen as finalists have their names and applications submitted by QuestBridge to college “partners” during the early admissions cycle in lieu of submitting their applications directly to schools.

The colleges then rank the students in whom they are interested, and the students rank their top-choice colleges. If there is a match, the student may attend the school and receive a scholarship package from QuestBridge that includes full cost of tuition, books and room and board. Students who do not find a match during the early admissions cycle may apply to their choices regular decision. Colleges participating in the College Match program for the current admissions cycle include Princeton and Stanford universities.

Tim Brady, the chief executive officer of QuestBridge, said the organization believes that countless high-potential students do not participate in the college admissions process because of a lack of resources and information. Through this program, he said, the students benefit from learning that financial aid can make higher education realistic, while colleges benefit from a larger applicant pool of talented, economically-diverse students.

“We just want those students who deserve to be on Yale’s campus, if they want to go, [to be able to] get in or at least apply to get in,” Brady said.

In the fall 2006 early admissions cycle, 103 students were matched with colleges through QuestBridge, and Brady said he expects hundreds more participants to be admitted regular decision, although they will not receive the organization’s full scholarship.

College Summit, founded by J.B. Schramm ’86, works with high schools in low-income areas to facilitate the spread of information concerning college opportunities. The organization trains counselors and students to enable them to create a “college culture” that will make higher education seem more accessible.

Schramm said his work mentoring a student at a New Haven public school during his time at Yale taught him that outside advising can make a large difference in students’ decision-making processes. He said he is pleased his alma mater is joining schools including Stanford University and Amherst College in reaching beyond Yale’s prospective applicant pool to students who probably will not consider the University but may go on to higher education because of their experiences with College Summit.

Cookie Miller, a counselor at South Charleston High School in South Charleston, W. Va., said College Summit has inspired many more of her students to complete college applications. During the program’s five years at the school, many of her counselees have participated in overnight workshops and enjoyed the experience, she said. They have then returned to the high school and not only pursued their own higher education goals, but encouraged their peers in their college endeavors.

“College Summit has a curriculum that the teachers deliver, and if the teachers follow it and the kids take it seriously then it really does help them to see what their options are,” Miller said. “We have so many kids we can’t just do that with everybody [without the help of College Summit].”

Joe Walker ’09 said he supports the University’s participation in these programs, even if it is benefiting students who may not attend Yale. It is important that these issues of lack of information be addressed, he said.

“If you’re saying what kind of organization should be doing it, it seems that the actual colleges, especially the most prestigious, should be,” he said.

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