In Real Life Blog Series: College Admission Does Not Mean College Readiness

Bob Carr, Founder, Give Something Back Foundation
October 3rd, 2016
Posted In: In Real Life

Mentoring and education go hand in hand. This October, we will be sharing stories that highlight the power of mentoring to support students at-risk of falling off track and encourage them to enroll in college. This article shows how mentors can help prepare students emotionally and academically for the rigor of college and set them up for future success.

In his first joint address to Congress in 2009, President Obama set a goal that the nation should once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the year 2020.

The good news is the numbers of U.S. high school students who enroll in college after graduation is on the rise. The bad news is that once they get to college, many of these students are quickly discovering they are not prepared for postsecondary studies.

In fact, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s “report card,” just 37% of U.S. high school 12th graders are prepared for college math and reading.

Lack of readiness for college is a major culprit in low graduation rates. And we all know without a college degree getting a job, transitioning to the middle class and staying in the middle class becomes all the more difficult.

Then there are the costs associated with not being ready for college. According to the College Board, students take on average 6.2 years to complete a 4-year degree (at an average cost of $18,000 per year). Thus, when students have the skills necessary to complete their college degrees in 4 years, they can actually save an average of $36,000!

We recognized these gaps existed when we launched the Give Something Back Foundation —  a nonprofit organization that provides mentoring and four-year college scholarships to hardworking students with financial need.

on-the-bus1-minRather than just providing scholarships for low-income kids to attend college — access that most likely would have been beyond their reach — we implemented a mentoring program to help ensure these students have the tools they need to complete any postsecondary or training experience, and complete it on time. When accepted into the program, our scholars are paired with professionally trained mentors while still in high school who support these students socially, emotionally and academically, and instill in them a college-prep mentality long before their fellow classmates are even thinking about higher education.

Honors and advanced placement courses are pushed to help students transition to bigger challenges. They take tours of college campuses so they know what they can look forward to. We ensure they are maintaining a GPA of 3.0. They are trained in “soft skills” such as work discipline, teamwork and customer service that correlate with positive outcomes later in life. Good character and involvement in community service and extra-curricular activities are emphasized. We help them take advantage of untapped talents. We encourage.

This mentoring program is designed so when these students enter one of our partner institutions, they are prepared to manage life — and even thrive — away from their communities in an undergraduate setting. They arrive on campus full of passion and self confidence that will ultimately lead them to careers and promising futures.

I can tell you now, this strategy is working. Our four-year college graduation rate is 90%. The students in the program are achieving remarkable success — some entering the medical field, the corporate world, education, and even the realm of nonprofits.

The Give Something Back foundation has paid for 850 scholarships and is on track to provide mentors and fund college for nearly 3,000 students who qualify for the Pell Grant. We are committed to changing lives, providing equality of opportunity and improving economic prospects.

College readiness needs to be a top priority if we are going to prepare our nation’s students with the skills and behaviors to keep pace with the increasingly sophisticated challenges that lie ahead.

I believe strongly that the key to this preparedness is having someone in your court — having a mentor.


9 million young people in America are in need of a trusted adult in their lives to guide them in moments big and small. Join the In Real Life movement and become an advocate, make a donation or become a volunteer.

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