Education

Significant benefits of virtual counseling for low-income students (opinions)

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When Catherine started her college application journey in her junior year, she knew she wanted to be a nurse and avoid heavy student debt, but she didn’t know how to make this dream a reality. Many times, low-income students or first-generation students like her are left behind when dealing with the increasingly complex college admissions process. Fortunately, she established contact with a virtual consultant, and his help played an important role in her obtaining a full scholarship from the State University Honors College, which she will enroll in next fall.

The enrollment gap between low-income students and wealthier students continues to widen at an alarming rate.Recently released National Student Information Exchange Center Research Center Data It shows that the college enrollment rate of high-poor high schools fell by 11% in 2020, while the overall national decline was 6.8%. Closing this gap requires huge investment and support. Ironically, the pandemic has strengthened an important method: virtual consultation.

At the best of times, students from underserved high schools may be An average of 464 other students, Time with the school counselor. For students whose families lack intergenerational knowledge to help with college applications at home, this process is particularly daunting-and for some people, derailed.

The pressure of the pandemic on many students and families will only exacerbate these barriers. For example, many of these students must provide income for their families or care for sick or young relatives. When the school is remote, taking care of all this makes it almost impossible to apply for college and financial aid.

Virtual consultation meets the needs of these high-demand students: online. E.g, College pointIt is a free virtual consultation program supported by the Bloomberg Charity Foundation before the pandemic, which expanded its program to help more low-income students apply and enter the country’s top universities. Since its launch in 2014, CollegePoint has benefited more than 70,000 low-income students. Other such plans include:

  • Work hard, It runs a completely virtual mentorship program that works with aspiring and current college students to help them apply to college and prepare for their careers.
  • Bottom line, Allowing students to enter and pass the university, and work with students one-on-one for up to six years, starting from the third grade of high school.
  • And during the epidemic, University Advisory Group (Also supported by the Bloomberg Charity Foundation) Converted its 800 college consultants working in 745 different high schools into a full virtual model to ensure that students go to college smoothly.

Whether through email, phone, social media, or text messages, such virtual consultants can help students narrow down the application list, review admissions essays, learn how to fill out the FAFSA, answer parent questions, negotiate financial assistance, etc.

Consider the experiences of two students that CollegePoint has helped:

  • This year, a student in Missouri worked with a virtual consultant to weigh the financial realities of attending a university far from home during the pandemic. This guidance is very important to her family. Without substantial assistance, her family would not have the resources to fund her education. Thanks to the help of her consultants, she will attend college in Nashville, Tennessee in the fall.
  • When another student in Florida was unable to obtain college support from her high school during the pandemic, her virtual consultant stepped in to help her write compelling college admissions essays, which were used in the admissions process without standardized tests. Played a greater role. She now plans to start working at a research university in California this fall.

But virtual courses are rare and usually not well known, so important opportunities to increase the opportunities that low-income students desperately need are missed, now more than ever. When our upcoming pandemic has hit the already dying system and individual students and their families time and time again, education leaders should draw attention. this means:

  • Build new and expanded virtual consulting services. This will require greater investment, and this is the investment that the state and federal governments should make—and so should the universities themselves. Our higher education institutions and our society have important interests in expanding university opportunities for outstanding students at all levels of the economy.
  • Extend broadband access to every region of the country so that students (including virtual consultants) who want to study online can do so.
  • Make sure all students are aware of such services. Every high school counselor should ensure that every student in their school knows that virtual counseling services can be used to guide the college application and financial aid process. By providing additional support, every high school student in the country will know that they are not alone.

By reaching and supporting the students who need it most, we can increase admissions opportunities and ensure that talented and motivated students have the opportunity to make the most of the university. We can also translate the knowledge we learned during this pandemic into the lasting benefits of the students themselves and the institutions and society that have long promised to give them fair opportunities.

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