Report looks at role of academic coaching, support in low-income students' success

Nov 11, 2013

A new study shows a program of academic coaching and support improves the chances that low-income high school students will not only go to college, but succeed.

The study, done by Harvard University and College Possible, was released last week. The three-year study found that College Possible's program increased low-income students' college enrollment by 15 percent.

College Possible's academic coaching program is in eight Omaha metro-area high schools, including four OPS schools.

Jim McCorkell, CEO of College Possible, says about 80 percent of kids from upper-income levels will earn a college degree within 6 years of finishing high school. That's compared to only eight percent of high school students from the lowest-income quartile.  "So upper-income kids are basically ten times more likely to earn a college degree than low-income kids. So there's this big problem, and it's centered on income, but it's also certainly centered on race as well."

High school juniors and seniors enroll in the College Possible program. McCorkell says they go to an afterschool program two days a week. There, students are prepared for the ACT and SAT. College Possible volunteers also help the students apply for college, and find available financial aid and scholarships. The students remain in the program when they're in college.

College Possible came to Omaha in 2012. The program is also in four other cities. This school year, more than 1,500 students are enrolled in College Possible. The organization partners with groups such as Avenue Scholars and TeamMates.