Choosing the college that is right for you is no easy task. Big, medium or small? Near home or farther away? City or small town? Liberal arts or a specific course of study? What are the students like? The faculty? The campus? How’s the social life? Do they offer the athletics, arts and activities that I like? Are there students like me? Do they support students like me?
A lot of high school students spend a good chunk of their senior year thinking and worrying about these questions. The lucky ones have many family members and friends who have gone to college and can offer advice. Their parents might take them to visit a variety of college campuses to get a feel for the differences. At minimum, they’ve done a bit of traveling that has allowed them to have experiences outside of their own neighborhoods.
But this is not the case for all college bound students. Farther Foundation works with low-income high school students in Chicago who very often lack these resources. They are usually the first generation in their families to go to college, they seldom travel beyond the confines of their own neighborhoods and they lack advisers with a wide breadth of college information. Studies by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at University of Chicago indicate that the highest achieving students in Chicago public high schools regularly fail to identify and enroll in colleges that match their potential.
Farther Foundation enables eager and deserving students to participate in life changing summer enrichment travel programs. These programs give students the experiences, confidence and frame of reference they need to expand their options and make a good decision when choosing a college.
I just received an email from Nora. After her sophomore year of high school, Nora received a Farther Foundation grant to attend a summer science program at Carleton College (my alma mater). That experience has played an essential role in Nora’s subsequent college decisions. Here is what she had to say:
I just wanted to keep you updated with my college decisions and plans. All the colleges I applied to have released their decisions. I was accepted to Vassar College, Cornell University, Georgetown University, Tufts University, and Brown University. Currently, I have narrowed down my choices to Brown University and Georgetown University. I’m thrilled the college process is almost over.
Participating in a summer program like the Carleton College Summer Science Institute confirmed my desire to attend a college out of state. Although, I did apply to some instate schools (safeties) I knew that I wanted to experience something different. Seeing all the resources that a top college like Carleton could offer was eye-opening. I also learned more about what I wanted in a college thanks to this program. I wanted a suburban or urban setting, medium-size university, but I definitely wanted a college with a strong liberal arts education because the people I meet at Carleton were some of the smartest people I’ve meet. I still keep in contact with some of the friends I made, and they are all going to great institutions like Stanford, Carleton, Harvard, and more.
As a first generation college student, I had learned so much from program, I realized that going out of state for college would be a great experience. Thank you for believing in my potential, and enabling me to participate in a program that opened my eyes to college.
Like 95% of all Farther Foundation alumni, Nora will be going off to a great college next year and I know she will excel. We look forward to hearing from all of our seniors who will be making this important choice in the days ahead.
Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences.