College Track: Keeping Students On Track—Remotely

Sometimes high school students need some extra support outside the classroom to make it through high school and graduate from college. They need someone to check in on them, push them in the direction of their intellectual passions, map out goals and sketch a path to get there. If they don’t understand an assignment or a concept, they need a coach to show them how to self-advocate and ask for another round of explanation or instruction. These executive function skills are essential to academic—and life—success.

Instilling these skills is what College Track aims to do, while also helping students improve their academic readiness, build social emotional skills and secure college admissions, scholarships and financial aid. It does so by providing students 250 hours per year of one-on-one coaching, tutoring, workshops, exposure opportunities and meaningful summer experiences.

Brought to the DC Metro Area by FC2 Trustee Susan Stevenson, College Track sticks by first-generation students from low-income communities from 9th grade all the way through college graduation. So far it has an excellent track record. Nearly all of its students matriculate to college and graduate from college at a rate that is more than double the national average for their peers.

College Track recently set up two centers in the region that serve 129 ninth and tenth graders and will each grow to serve 500. It started with its first cohort last year in Prince George’s County and this past January in DC’s Ward 8. When the pandemic hit, the DC students had scarcely begun the program in-person before everything went virtual.

But that didn’t stop the program—its work and extra support more important than ever during this time of disruption. College Track academic coaches began doing weekly calls with each student (and periodically with parents) to make sure they and their families had everything they needed, whether that be tech devices, food, academic, wellness or healthcare support. If they struggled to get groceries, College Track put them in touch with organizations like Martha’s Table. If they couldn’t afford a COVID test, College Track found a way to get them a free one.

College Track’s academic and skill-based programming continues apace. There are still regular tutoring and SAT prep Zoom sessions, as well as extra sessions for managing stress with mindfulness exercises and managing boredom by staying connected to others. There are remote movie-watching parties that are college-themed, virtual college tours and online career conversations. There are virtual passion clubs where students with similar interests like coding, law or sports can connect with their peers. Soon a two-week “Math Blast,” will begin for students who need an extra boost to their math skills.

You can learn more about College Track here.