Nearly 60% of Philadelphia's college-goers drop out with debt but without a degree. This "college success divide" is destructive to our city and thousands of families. Closing this divide will require different thinking. Mentor for Philly is creating of an entirely new type of pathway through community college and non-traditional post-secondary options to redefine college success. And at the foundation our work are some key arguments:
- We argue that underrepresented students' understanding of how to navigate the social & academic structures of college in the first place is often overlooked. Nobody makes it alone. And everybody deserves the mentorship that can empower them with the know-how to succeed in a new environment. This is why our Pre-College program exposes high schoolers and non-traditional college-bound scholars to extraordinary experiences and relationships that enable them to learn, practice, and embody firsthand the critical Six Skills of college success.
- We argue that not everybody needs to be rushed directly into a four-year college or university. Currently structures (while well intentioned) pressure too many students into the concept of "college," compelling families to take out more than their annual income in loans to finance a college education. No family should face such a debt burden. This is why Philly College Team, our college support system, is the low-cost, high-support college option everybody can count on.
The Six Skills
Throughout our program, our mentors help our students develop these Six Skills that are integral for college success but commonly not found in low-income, first-generation students. We developed these skills by synthesizing literature from top college success academics and conducting countless interviews and consultations with students, parents, college counselors, advisors, deans, and our mentors. These skills, necessary for college success academically in the classroom and socially on campus, are taught through hands-on practice and mirroring at CCP in our Pre-College component. Then, they are translated and constantly reinforced in Philly College Team, our college support program.