‘College Summit’ Boosts Connecticut College Enrollment Rates

“College Summit”, a college workshop program out of Yale University, is helping New Haven, Connecticut, high school students get a jump on their college career.

The summit began in New Haven in 2010 with the goal of increasing area college enrollment rates, as well as high school graduation rates.  According to Mayor Toni Harp, for every 10 high school freshmen, only three are in college six years later.

According to Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries, while 9 out of 10 middle school students report wanting to attend college, five actually will, with only two obtaining a two- or four-year degree

Veronica DeLandro, executive director for College Summit Connecticut, said the goal of College Summit is to “help increase the college going culture so everyone is thinking, talking, and breathing college.”

The College Summit is part of a five-year partnership with the city, New Haven Public Schools and New Haven Promise.  Currently in its fourth year, graduation rates are already seeing improvement.  New Haven’s four-year graduation rate is at 70%, up by 8% from only five years ago.  College enrollment rates are also on the rise, jumping from 47% in 2010 to 67% in 2013.

Similar workshops will take place at the University of Connecticut, Amherst College and Yale throughout the summer, helping a total of 200 seniors, who will return to their high schools as “college summit ambassadors”, helping their peers to devise a post-high school plan, writes Rachel Chinapen for The New Haven Register.

“Something [is] happening over these four days that really empowers them, not only for themselves but to go back and help their peers,” DeLandro said.

There are 13 New Haven schools taking part in the summit, an increase from the nie school taking part last year.  Three alternative high schools have joined the initiative this year.

“We’re really learning how to come out of our comfort zones, we’re learning how to project and be more prominent, and just to be us, but a better us,” high school student Chynelle Hussey said. “It’s kind of like an empowerment thing.”

According to Delandro, the efforts of the College Summit are of the utmost importance for the success of some students.

“This is needed because there are students that are very talented, and have the drive, unfortunately they don’t have the resources,” DeLandro said. “They might be first-generation college bound or they may be in schools where the ratio between the students and school counselors is so high, that they don’t receive the one-on-one attention.

State program manager Jasmine Willis reports the top three hurdles students must clear for academic success in college include preparedness, financial aid and understanding the college process.  These topics are all covered in the workshops in an effort to get students thinking before it becomes “a roller coaster ride.”

This year’s class will be the first that the College Summit has worked with towards college graduation.