-Facilitators: Lori Chajet, Sierra Stoneman-Bell

“Oh No! I Have to Apply to College!” How to Make the Process Less Scary was the product of The Youth Leadership Practicum which took place in the spring of 2008 through The Institute for Urban Education at Eugene Lang College. The Institute for Urban Education, an organization that taps into university resources to collaborate with public high schools to better bridge the transition from high school to college, designed the Youth Leadership Practicum to help first generation college-bound students in their college search and application process. The program emphasized three core practices: inquiry, youth leadership, and exchange between first-generation college-bound students and first-generation college students. Working with youth from the Urban Youth Collaborative’s Student Success Center at Bushwick Campus High School and East Side House Settlement’s College Preparatory and Leadership Program at Mott Haven Village Preparatory High School, the program engaged high school students as youth researchers exploring the college application and college going process. The ultimate goal was to create something to bring back to their own schools that could help other students like themselves realize their aspirations to go to college. Doing their exploration alongside a committed group of college students, many of whom were also the first in their families to attend, the high school students received critical support and a model of how to enact agency to overcome obstacles in their paths. Sessions were spent exploring different college campuses, engaging in the application process to understand the inherent challenges and frustrations, and investigating how students actually meet the costs of college in an era of rising tuition and declining grant-based aid. Throughout the process, the youth leaders documented what they learned, as well as what they felt, and then created this youth-to-youth resource guide that, unlike most college guides, speaks directly to the needs of first-generation college-bound students.

For more information about the Youth Leadership Practicum you can contact Lori Chajet at lori.chajet(at)verizon.net or Sierra Stoneman-Bell at sierrasb(at)gmail.com.