CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Aug. 2, 2013 – Incoming Southeast Missouri State University student Jazmin Hoey of Kirkwood, Mo., was the 100th person to be served by the St. Louis Graduates High School to College Center, which opened in June in St. Louis.
Hoey, a Kirkwood High School graduate, plans to attend Southeast in the fall to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
While at the Center June 28, Hoey had the good fortune of working with someone from the same institution she plans to attend. “They have college reps from all different schools that come in and are able to answer any questions you may have about that particular school,” Hoey said. “They helped to try and get ahold of my school transcripts, but one of the counselors from my school volunteers there which makes it seem a little bit more comfortable, minus the giant smiles surrounding me.” James Williams, a Southeast admissions counselor who was volunteering for the first time at the Center that day, assisted Hoey at the facility at 618 N. Skinker Blvd. in the Delmar Loop in space donated by Washington University in St. Louis.
“I met with five students who were either current students, incoming students or just interested in Southeast,” said Williams, who, at Southeast works to recruit students from St. Louis City, East St. Louis, Ill., Kansas City, Mo., and Tennessee.
The questions prospective students ask tend to focus on changing their major, financial aid and getting their housing contracts completed, Williams said.
Hoey was in the last category. She had visited the Center that day to get help completing her housing contract for the fall semester, he said.
“When I first went to the Center I didn’t know how to do anything to get ready for college life,” Hoey said. “I couldn’t figure out paperwork I needed or the people to contact to get what I needed. (The people at the Center) helped me to figure out all of my financial questions and guided me in the processes I had to take on the website to get the proper paperwork in. They also gave me a bagel – I guess I couldn’t work on an empty stomach.”
The Center is operated by St. Louis Graduates. High school admissions counselors and admissions counselors, financial aid advisors, higher education transition staff and others from Missouri colleges and universities volunteer their time in shifts during the week to meet one-on-one with people who visit the facility. The advisors help students who do not have the means to get help any other way with questions about college. The Center is to help bridge the gap created during the summer months between students’ senior year of high school and their first year of college, known as the “summer melt.”
Many high school students who at graduation intend to enroll in college somehow do not arrive on campus in the fall. The reasons are many, but include late realization that their financial aid package is insufficient to meet their need, incomplete paperwork, missed deadlines or a lack of support from family and friends.
According to St. Louis Graduates, nationally, an estimated 10 percent of students who intend to enroll in college for the first time in the fall do not do so. St. Louis Graduates conducted a survey of local counselors and found they are concerned that as many as one-third of their students – students who have been accepted to college – are at risk for summer melt. That’s what inspired the idea for a collaborative, community-wide approach to addressing the issue in St. Louis.
Research indicates that providing college bound high school graduates with additional support during the summer months has a positive impact on fall enrollment, according to St. Louis Graduates.
While the Center is designed to assist low-income and first-generation college students, the Center is available to anyone who needs guidance on any step of the process toward attending college. The goal of St. Louis Graduates is to give all students in the metro St. Louis area access to the resources necessary to complete a postsecondary degree and for 50 percent of adults in the region to have a postsecondary degree by 2020.
The founders of the Center, when it opened in June, expected to assist at least 100 students over the course of this summer, according to Laura Winter, project manager at St. Louis Graduates. Instead, they helped 100 students in its first month. To date, 185 students have been served, and the Center expects to help more than 200 by the end of the summer.
The Center will continue to serve students through Aug. 18.
Students may receive help on a walk-in basis or may email the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Center at (314) 932-6956. The Center is open seven days a week from noon to 5 p.m. “I have visited twice and both times were a great experience,” Hoey said. “I hope to see them soon before I do take this big step into the college doors. The people there are always happy and willing to help you out. At first I didn’t know (how I felt) about the whole people knowing my business, but they don’t judge – they just help. It is what they do and my mom likes the place so that’s a huge thumbs up.” In the remaining weeks of the summer, Hoey is preparing to make the transition to Southeast. Last weekend at the Academic Support Centers’ Resource and Review Prep Session in St. Louis, she interviewed with the staff and will become a member of the TRIO/Student Support Services Program. She also is a recipient of a College Access Partnership Award as she enters Southeast.