As we inch closer to Thanksgiving Day, I wanted to highlight an organization that I’m grateful to know and support: Chicago Scholars. College is vital for so many students to continue their education and prepare for their careers. It’s also a daunting task for many of them who are first-generation college students. That’s where a group like Chicago Scholars comes in.
It’s not hard for me to imagine the flurry of thoughts and worries and hesitations that might go through students’ minds at this time in their lives. I had those thoughts, and my son – who now attends college – had many of them, too. How do I settle on a major? What about financial aid? What is a good school for me? How do I juggle all the applications and still focus on my high school work?
It’s a lot. But the Chicago Scholars program helps fill the void. Motivated students from underserved communities who are accepted into the program receive mentorship and guidance from volunteers from the Chicago community. Not only do these mentors provide advice and help get scholars ready to advance their education, but they help ease concerns and act as a sounding board for the questions and concerns the scholars may have.
One of the best parts of the Chicago Scholars program is the Onsite Admissions Forum. This year, over 1,000 students descended on Navy Pier to meet with representatives from 179 colleges and universities from across the country. In one day, they held more than 5,700 admissions interviews! Many students received admissions and merit financial aid on the spot.
It’s quite a day, and I was proud to be there with other Stand colleagues and members. One Stand parent, Markesha, said the luncheon opened her eyes to more possibilities related to affording college for her daughter. Organizations likes Chicago Scholars are needed to assist families in finding ways to pay the rising costs of college tuition. She was inspired by seeing students get accepted in real-time.
This program not only helps better prepare our young people for their college education, but it serves as a motivating force for younger students, too. I know some Stand parents like Markesha are focused on the Chicago Scholars program and getting application materials ready for their children in the near future. They are now accepting applications for the new class of Chicago Scholars. Find out more information about the program and how to apply here.
Working together, and providing strong mentorship and opportunities to interact with colleges and universities, Chicago Scholars positions the next generation to succeed in wonderful ways. Scholars serve as role models for their communities and other first-generation college students just like them. I’m proud to support their work and continue to engage our students in positive ways.
P.S.: You can support Stand today and check it off your holiday to-do list.