This summer I contributed a lot of research and insight from the college student perspective to my site. My project for this summer was to focus on college access and completion at Schuler colleges, which tend to be highly-selective private liberal arts schools. Essentially, Schuler wanted to figure out how they could better prepare their scholars for college at these institutions and how they could better support them in being successful throughout their time there. I was able to share my experience as a current scholar in a predominantly white Schuler school and express some of my struggles as well as things that I have benefited from as a result of attending my institution. I reminded them that for a lot of students who have never been in a predominantly white school it can be a major culture shock and that is a reason why a number of my friends from freshman year who were minorities transferred out. I also expressed to them that for some students it can be very difficult to deal with ignorant professors and students which can also often result in students transferring out of Schuler schools.
After my senior year of high school, Schuler began partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs,) which they had never done in the past. Through my research over the summer, I came to the realization that a lot of scholars who were choosing to attend HBCUs would transfer out after a year or two so I did interviews with these students to see what their main issues were. The three students I spoke with said they loved the environment, but that the financial aid was subject to change and that when it did, a lot of students were usually forced to find a cheaper school or one with better aid. My partner and I gave Schuler the idea of creating a portal with links to outside scholarships that would be attainable for scholars to help make sure they could stay at the school of their choice. We figured that as years go on and scholars keep applying for the same scholarships, Schuler will be able to better help scholars determine what it really takes to become recipients of these scholarships. This was one of the staff’s favorite ideas that my partner and I brought to the table.
This is unrelated to my work this summer, but when I interned with the Schuler program in the summer of 2018 I was tasked with finding new high schools for the program to partner with and I found a major flaw in their search. I realized that the program only chose to partner with the top-performing high schools that still had a good enough population of minority, low-income, and/or first-generation students. I found this to be a flaw because I thought it was unfair to use a school’s test scores in determining whether or not Schuler was the right fit for them. In choosing schools this way Schuler was failing to help the students who needed their resources the most. During my time as an intern, I used my research and presented to the CEO, Jack Schuler, the idea of incorporating more disadvantaged schools and seeing what the outcome would be. They are now in year two of working with underperforming schools and helping students in those areas have the ability to get into and succeed at highly-selective colleges and universities.