I am currently a student in the Higher Education program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. As a part of my studies I am enrolled in a course led by Dr. Laura Perna in which we learn about ways to increase college access.
Last week our class had the great pleasure of visiting and learning about University City High School’s Student Success Center. I found the work that Ms. Park and her staff have done to be quite amazing. In just a short period of time it seems as though the student attitude towards college at UCHS has completely shifted. I was inspired by the stories that current students and SSC interns Matt, Glenika, and Karohn shared with our class. It was evident that they had all been deeply touched by the initiatives and the people of the SSC, because as Ms. Park told our class: “Programs don’t change people, people change people.”
In our Access & Choice course we are studying what types of programs are most effective in increasing college access and what techniques they employ in order to be successful. It seems to me that UCHS’s SSC has been able to thrive by reaching both inwards and outwards. By integrating its programming directly into the regular flow at UCHS through initiatives such as Advisory and by taking advantage of outside partnerships with local businesses to arrange internships and local universities (like Penn!) to mentor and tutor students, the Student Success Center has really hit its stride.
I can’t wait to see how the SSC continues to grow and develop and how the college search, application, and matriculation processes turn out for Karohn, Glenika, and Matt! I wish the best to all of our new friends over at UCHS, keep up the good work. 🙂