by Angela Choi, Community Engagement Fellow at the Colin Powell School
When you scan the list of available federal work-study jobs, many are in campus offices or departments needing administrative help. But there’s another opportunity, one that takes you away from paperwork and into the City College community.
Let’s Get Ready is a nonprofit organization that provides free SAT preparation to students from families with low incomes, and assists these students throughout the college application process. Let’s Get Ready at City College is a different kind of on-campus work-study, where students awarded federal work-study funding get paid to do great work. It’s a unique opportunity to engage and have an impact on your community.
While I was still in high school, I had a burning desire to go to college—but I didn’t know how to get there. My parents had not gone to college in this country and were unfamiliar with the application process. My parents believed it was my high school’s responsibility to help me get into college, and expected their support. Unfortunately, this just wasn’t the case.
I attended a large New York City public high school. There were only four guidance counselors in a school of 4,000 students. Guidance counselors were overwhelmed with the number of appointments they had each day. It took me almost two weeks to see my guidance counselor, and when I saw her, my session was rushed and unhelpful. Because my guidance counselor didn’t provide much assistance, I turned to my classmates. But they were just as lost as I was. I was overwhelmed, so much so that it almost kept me from applying altogether. Finally, after several weeks of searching online I found resources that helped me through.
When I got into City College I felt I’d conquered the biggest challenge of my life. Yet I knew that many high schools students were probably facing the same difficulties I encountered, and I wanted to offer these students an easier path to getting into college. I know from experience that having a mentor, especially one close enough to my age and college application process, would have done a lot to help me through that stressful period.
My Community Engagement fellowship at the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, a one-year fellowship that helps students launch community service projects, gave me an opportunity to plan, create, and implement the partnership between Let’s Get Ready and City College.
When I told Director of the Colin Powell School's Office of Student Success Kamilah Briscoe about my interest in college access issues, she directed me to Let’s Get Ready, citing their other partnerships with other New York City-area universities. I contacted the organization, and we formed a pilot program in the summer of 2013, with a successful roll-out in the fall semester. Fifteen City College students mentored forty high-school students, meeting once or twice a week. With the help of CCNY mentors, many of our high school students have been accepted to community colleges and four-year universities, and many have received scholarships.
Let’s Get Ready at City College is a program filled with passionate college students who are agents of change in their community. You don’t need to be an education major to join Let’s Get Ready: We provide everyone with the tools, trainings, and guidance to be a successful mentor. If you are passionate about cultivating and fostering our next generation of leaders by getting them ready for college, consider applying for a work-study position as a Let’s Get Ready mentor this semester.
If you're interested in training to work as a mentor at Let's Get Ready-City College, contact Site Director Lindsay De La Rosa: City.LGR@gmail.com.