Waukegan to College believes there are many hundreds, if not thousands, of Waukegan students not reaching their full potential. For students and families who do not consider college to be an option, Waukegan to College seeks to inform families about the rules of the “college game” through workshops and one-on-one counseling. In addition, support programs like weekly tutoring and coaching, help ensure that students get on and stay on a path to college.
Students in Waukegan to College range from 5th grade to college. By starting the program with students just before they enter middle school, W2C establishes high academic expectations and a concrete sense that college, with hard work, is attainable.
Waukegan to College more than doubled from 25 students in its first year to 130 in the 2015-2016 school year — this number now includes 50 students in college who would likely not be there without Waukegan To College. Often, W2C works with the oldest child in the family and the younger siblings benefit from the understanding of the college process that parents gain. As the current 1st grader in the family grows up, his parents will be well-attuned to the importance of getting good grades, taking challenging courses, beginning to save for college at an early grade, and the many other critical aspects of pursuing higher education.
A fundamental tenet of W2C is its focus on families. Workshops delivering key information for pursuing college admission are given for students and parents and are presented in English and Spanish.
W2C fosters an environment where families are expected to give back to the program by helping families new to W2C become oriented to our program and by being W2C ambassadors in their community organizations. We believe that ultimately this family outreach will be instrumental in creating the college-going culture of the long-term vision.
- Counseling and Advocacy
- College Persistence
- Academic Improvement
- Cultural and Workplace Exposure
- Parent involvement
Counseling and Advocacy
The activities of a W2C counselor include meeting monthly with each family, discussing goals and progress towards these goals, advocating for the student in the school for changes such as taking more challenging courses, getting additional help in courses where the student may be struggling, or ensuring that Individual Education Plan (IEP) accommodations are being made. W2C counselors are in close contact with teachers and administrators in the Waukegan Public Schools. In addition, we work with families to get students enrolled in summer programs on college campuses.
Volunteer college counselors work with high school juniors and seniors individually and in small groups to help them understand the college application process and develop a list of colleges that may be of interest. These meetings typically include the student’s coach and the coach then works with the student on exploring these college options.
Each month, we present a workshop to the families. In the 2013-2014 school year, eight workshops were presented: 1) Parent/Student Communication; 2) Short- and Long-Term Goal Setting; 3) college visits to the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and Lakeland College; 4) pizza party with college students about college life; 5) College 101 and College Planning 6) Funding College and Resume Writing; 7) Student Success Strategies and Life Skills; and 8) Career Day. Workshops are held on Saturdays and generally run for two hours. A simultaneous translator delivers the presentation in Spanish for the Spanish-speaking parents.
Some age-specific workshops are offered for high school juniors and seniors. For example, in the fall, a workshop for seniors gives an orientation to financial aid and in the early second semester the college application timeline is reviewed with high school juniors. Each summer, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Waukegan hosts a “going to college” shower for W2C graduates, giving gifts generously donated by the congregation and W2C providing speakers offering tips on transitioning from high school to college.
The coaching aspect of W2C pairs an adult volunteer with a student. The goal is to form a relationship in which the coach can help the student set and realize goals. The pairs work on goal-setting, and academic skills such as time management and career investigation. As the student moves into upper high school, college research and applications become the focus. Importantly, coaches maintain contact with their student after the student goes to college. This relationship is an extra safety net to keep the student in college once they get there. All volunteers must interview with our Program Coordinator and complete a background check and a child protection workshop before being matched with a student.
W2C will seek to improve the academic performance of our students so that they are prepared for college and are attractive candidates for colleges (more choices, more scholarships). In addition to the ongoing one-on-one counseling in which W2C encourages academic progress and advocates in the schools for the most challenging coursework possible for each student, a variety of academic supports are available:
- Weekly Tutoring: W2C offers weekly tutoring in many subjects, focusing on 炫乐彩票手机app下载work help. This effort is very important in helping our students improve grades and gain confidence in core academic areas. Each week a student works one-on-one with a tutor in a specific subject (many students work with several tutors, each in a different subject area). Tutors come from all over Lake County and vary in their expertise. For example, a scientist may be adept at helping a student in physics and a retired English teacher may help a student with writing. In general, we seek to pair the same student with the same tutor each week so that a relationship can be built. This approach of assigning tutors takes staff time to schedule as compared to a “drop in” approach, but yields better results for students and volunteers. Each week there are approximately 55 volunteer hours of tutoring.
- Read to Achieve: In January, 2011 W2C kicked-off a read-aloud program, Read to Achieve, that helps improve the students’ abilities in reading, vocabulary, and comprehension. Students read aloud to a tutor once a week for 45 minutes at the Waukegan Public Library. We will continue to build this program to 20+ hours of reading per week. In January, 2011 W2C kicked-off a read-aloud program, Read to Achieve, that helps improve the students’ abilities in reading, vocabulary, and comprehension. Students read aloud to a tutor once a week for 45 minutes at the Waukegan Public Library. We will continue to build this program to 20+ hours of reading per week.
- ACT prep: Volunteers with experience in ACT preparation work with W2C juniors and seniors. On average we are seeing student’s scores improve by 1 point.
- W2C Summer Enrichment Program: Despite the hard work of our students and tutors, we continue to have concerns about the overall preparedness of our students. Lagging ACT scores and the low placement of our students in College of Lake County classes indicate that there is much work on academics to be done. Toward that end, we developed summer sessions in math, reading and writing at both the middle school and high school levels. In 2014, we provided similar middle school math and English support during spring break. While summer school programs exist to retake a specific subject (e.g., geometry), there are no options for students to “go back to basics” and master key skills like fractions and decimals.
- Kahn Academy – Math Enrichment Program. Each week, 14 W2C middle school students spend 60 minutes or more working on their own, and 90 minutes working as a group with two W2C volunteers. The course outline includes: multiplication and division, factors and multiples, negative numbers and absolute values, decimals, fractions, and ratios, proportions, units and rates. We are seeing growth in basic skill level of these students and our goal is to offer it to all students.
- Summer academic camps on college campuses: Part of W2C’s strategy to keep students on a path to college is to help them envision themselves there. Summer camps on campuses are an excellent way for students to experience college life and at the same time gain academic skills. (This also helps parents get more accustomed to the idea of their children being away at school.) W2C staff puts together a list of more than 30 options for students in a wide range of topics for relatively low cost ($300-400) and/or with scholarship options and then works with students and their families to choose and apply to camps. 98% of W2C students attended a summer camp in 2014 and all received full or partial scholarships.
Cultural and Workplace Exposure
Studies show that exposures to arts and culture, workplaces/businesses, and other areas such as government spark critical thinking, which is connected to increased academic achievement and future success. That’s why this year, W2C launched its Expanding Horizons program. So far students have been exposed to:
- 3 performances – Shakespeare’s Othello, Too Hot to Handle, a jazz Messiah performance, and the MLK Project – a one-woman re-enactment of the civil rights movement in Chicago in the 1960s.
- Dinosaur and Natural History Museums in Kenosha, WI (middle school students)
- Metraflex in Chicago (high school students) – learn how a company runs – from the person on the factory floor to the corporate offices.
Families are brought into the program through an annual in-take process:
- Students entering 5th thru 10th grade
- Attend a school in Waukegan. It can be public or private
- Be a first generation student
- Low income as defined by HUD guidelines
- Undocumented students welcome to apply
- Leaders at W2C community organizations identify prospective families (in 2012, W2C community organizations are: Lions Math and Science Christian Academy, Living Faith Utied Methodist Church, Most Blessed Trinity Catholic Church, Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe Episcopal Church, St Martin de Porres High School, St Paul’s Lutheran Church, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and Friendship Church)
- Families complete an application and must have the person recommending them to the program sign it, along with letters of recommendation from teachers, counselors, or principals. W2C staff and Parent Leaders interviews families who have submitted an application and determines whether the student shows commitment to school and willingness to work with W2C resources to improve, and whether the parents are committed to participating in W2C programming and supporting their child
- W2C staff interviews families who have submitted an application and determines whether the student shows commitment to school and willingness to work with W2C resources to improve, and whether the parents are committed to participating in W2C programming and supporting their child
Note: To enter the program, high school students must be entering sophomore year or below, sophomores must have at least a 3.0 GPA, have taken or planning on taking an honors or AP course by 11th grade at the latest, commitment to four years of college-prep courses, planning to enter a Bachelor’s Degree program. On rare occasions, W2C will accept a rising junior.
Current 10th grade students must reapply to W2C as an Envision Corps student and meet the guidelines outlined above.
Recruitment is district-wide.
W2C parents are involved in our programming as volunteers, parent leaders, attending workshops and monthly meetings with their child to be up to date with the student’s academic performance.