Applying to college can be an overwhelming experience for high school students. As with any undertaking that looms large, breaking down the process into small, manageable steps is key. So that’s exactly what the women of the Xi Zeta Omega graduate chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. are doing this year with IDEA scholars.
Tennessee State University President Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover, currently serving a four-year term as AKA’s president, had a vision for the sorority to help students navigate the college admissions process. Now the members of Xi Zeta Omega are putting Dr. Baskin Glover’s plan into action by providing monthly workshops during IDEA’s Pathways period.
“What motivated Dr. Baskin Glover was seeing too many African American high school students who lacked support in applying to college,” explained Dr. Sharon Jones, a member of the Xi Zeta Omega chapter. “Dr. Glover asked AKA chapters to partner with high schools and youth groups to provide that extra support through the College Application Process (#CAP) program, and to increase student interests in the value of attending an Historically Black College and University (HBCU).”
Dr. Jones and the #CAP Committee--Dr. Linda Jackson Jones, Shirley Williams, Judy Brown, and Cheryl Campbell--worked over the summer with IDEA Director of Career and Technical Education, Andrea Zimmermann and Tiffany Green, who teaches IDEA’s Business Management courses, to adapt the #CAP curriculum to meet the needs of IDEA scholars and incorporate community service opportunities into the program.
Eight monthly workshops will be presented online during scholars’ pathways period, from 8:30am-9:15am, featuring local and national experts on the topic of the month. September’s session was an orientation. Themes for the other sessions are as follows.
October--Making the college-career connection. Why go to college? Presentation by the University of the District of Columbia Office of Career Services.
November--What are the options? Why choose this college and how will it benefit me? A panel of undergraduate students from two-year and four-year schools, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Predominately White Institutions will discuss how and why they made their college choices.
December--How do you develop a winning application? Beyond test scores, what goes into a successful application? A college admissions officer will speak to students about what they look for in applications and offer tips to students to help them prepare stellar applications.
February--How do you pay for college? Experts from several DC organizations, including the United Negro College Fund, DC Tuition Assistance Program, and DC College Access Program, will talk about financial aid, and how to finance college beyond loans.
March--How do you manage the process? Easy-to-use tools and checklists will be provided to help students stay on track throughout the process.
April--Giving back--Scholars will volunteer alongside the women of Xi Zeta Omega to serve the Deanwood community. The chapter has also coordinated with the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, the DC Fire Department, East Friendship Baptist Church, First Baptist Church of Deanwood, and Stewart’s Funeral Home to arrange community service activities that scholars can participate in throughout the year on their own initiative.
May--Celebration of the year’s accomplishments.
To reinforce the messages of each workshop, the College Application Process program includes a packet of resources for scholars to complete as follow-up activities. IDEA staff members, including College and Career Coordinator Araba Apau, are available to answer scholars’ questions and provide guidance in between the sessions.
“We want students to have knowledge about the college application process and feel confident that they can navigate it,” Dr. Jones said. “In the long-term we want to increase the number of students who are applying to college and getting accepted, but our immediate goal is to motivate students and let them know they can do this.”