A college access and success program has expanded to Papillion-La Vista South High School this school year.
The program, College Possible, started at Papillion-La Vista High School in the 2012-13 school year.
After Papillion-La Vista Principal Jerry Kalina saw a presentation on College Possible, he invited the program to start at Papillion-La Vista.
Kalina and College Possible representatives discussed the program’s success at a September school board meeting.
It has grown to include 41 juniors and 42 seniors at Papillion-La Vista. Papillion-La Vista South’s program has 32 juniors.
College Possible works with students from low-income families on college admission and success. The program puts students through intense curriculum of coaching and support.
“A lot of students from low-income families don’t have that example set for them. This is the first time they will ever be hearing of anything about college or visiting a college campus or getting information about the ACT,” said Seth Rueter, AmeriCorps communications volunteer.
College Possible coaches are volunteers in the AmeriCorps program. Coaches are set up at each College Possible school.
Students are recruited in their sophomore year. Many students are recommended by principals, teachers or other school staff members.
Students in the program must be committed, Rueter said. The program requires students to meet with coaches for two hours twice a week.
Many students have busy schedules with work and extracurricular activities. Coaches are flexible with meeting times, Rueter said.
“Our coaches are really good about working with the students and finding any way to meet with them,” Rueter said. “We try and work with the student as long as they’re willing to meet halfway.”
Students will often meet with coaches during lunch, homeroom, or before or after school. Coaches also hold later sessions for student athletes.
Juniors in the program focus on taking the ACT. College Possible coaches are trained to help students prepare for the test. Students first take the test without any preparation. They take three practice tests throughout the year before taking the real test.
Students at Papillion-La Vista have seen an average ACT increase of 14.8 percent, Rueter said. Some students’ scores increased by up to 10 points, Rueter said.
Seniors focus on college applications and financial aid.
Coaches continue to work with students through college completion.
“We focus on college access and success,” Rueter said. “We really follow up with students to make sure they are getting everything they need when it comes to those things.”