The Ascending Lights iGraduate program is a response to the desire of our alumni to help as many of their peers as possible to graduate from community college and transfer to four year universities. Ascending Lights will train these alumni, as well as other volunteers from the community at large, in the use of our proven community college counseling and academic planning system. They will be supported by a team of Ascending Lights staff members along with telephone and online help services.
All residents of Los Angeles County will be eligible to take advantage of Ascending Lights iGraduate services.
A pilot project is proposed to maximize the impact of this initiative.
A Pilot Project Outline
1. Increase the enrollment of economically disadvantaged individuals in community college.
2. Increase the community college graduation and/or transfer rates of economically disadvantaged individuals.
1. Many economically disadvantaged individuals drop out of community college because:
A. They fail to take advantage of ALL available resources on a timely basis.
1) FAFSA, CalGrant, BOG
2) EOP & S
4) Remedial classes, learning labs, & special support services
5) Career counseling
B. They fail to declare a program of study early in their academic journeys.
C. They lack peer support.
D. Community colleges have neither the resources nor the staff to provide adequate and timely counseling to their students. The current ratio in California is one counselor to every 3,000 students!
E. As a result, they wind up wasting time and money as they spend more semesters than necessary in order to complete a degree or certificate. Recent studies prove that the likelihood of dropping out from community college is directly proportional to the length of time that is spent in the institution.
2. Community colleges in the Los Angeles area have similar procedures for admission, application for financial aid, access to support services, graduation, and transfer.
3. Using a set of standardized tools and procedures, properly trained and supported community college graduates can provide timely direction and follow up for individuals interested in attending community college.
Proposed Ascending Lights Pilot Project
1. Ascending Lights assembles a team consisting of paid staff mentors and volunteer program graduates. Both mentors and graduates will have experience in using the successful standardized college and career counseling tools that the agency presently employs.
2. The team conducts “iGraduate!” introductory seminars for parents, youth, and community volunteers at the facilities of faith based groups or other community organizations.
A. “Sell” the vital importance of community college education for future careers.
B. Encourage folks to sign up for “Getting Started” seminars at the same location.
1) Ascending Lights staff and volunteer graduates show up to the “Getting Started” seminars with laptop computers, printers, and online access.
2) Seminars will allow participants to:
a) Meet with a volunteer peer mentor and experienced A.L. staff.
b) Apply for admission to a local community college.
c) Apply for financial aid
d) Begin to work on an academic plan
e) Arrange for career assessment if needed
3. Volunteer “Peer Mentors” implement a follow up process to give ongoing support and track student progress.
4. Peer mentors are supported by a program that includes:
A. Maintaining a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
B. Employing staff mentors to operate an online help center.
C. Training other adult volunteers to use the standardized college success tools employed by Ascending Lights.
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