It’s a new year, which means another semester of the Blueprints College Success Initiative is back in session! The Blueprints program teams volunteer mentors from colleges across Alabama with local 11th grade students to prepare them for life after high school. These mentors serve as college coaches to their students and meet with them weekly to discuss all aspects of the college-going process. To guide the mentoring process, Blueprints uses milestones that keep the coaches and students focused throughout the Blueprints sessions.
There are six milestones over the course of the year. Milestones one through three are addressed during the fall semester, and milestones four through six are addressed during the spring semester.
- Milestone 1: Student Assessment – Students complete an Individualized College and Career Plan (ICCP) to indicate areas in which they need support. The ICCP helps Blueprints coaches determine students’ personal, social, and academic needs and goals and the steps required to meet them.
- Milestone 2: College Options – Students are exposed to post-secondary options that align with the career goals they identified in the student assessment. Students research post-secondary institutions in which they are interested and are encouraged to visit college campuses. They also begin exploring the costs of attending different types of colleges and think about ways to finance it.
- Milestone 3: Registration Plan – Students begin familiarizing themselves with the standardized tests required for college admittance. Blueprints coaches equip students with the resources needed to register for the ACT, SAT, or ASVAB. Also, student athletes are encouraged to register with the NCAA.
- Milestone 4: Financial Planning – Students research and develop plans to finance their college education. Blueprints coaches discuss with students the different types of financial aid available to them, including grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and loans.
- Milestone 5: Success Skills – Students explore opportunities like internships, educational enrichment, and extracurricular activities that strengthen their professional development. Blueprints coaches assist students with writing resumes, drafting personal statements, and requesting letters of recommendation from teachers and other community members.
- Milestone 6: Summer Plan – Students create summer plans that enhance their college and career readiness and enable them to succeed beyond high school. Summer plans include anything from employment, volunteer experiences, and preparation for standardized tests like the ACT or SAT.
To encourage participation in the Blueprints program, students go on a field trip to a local college for a campus visit. According to Blueprints Program Coordinator Keslie Boyles, “A campus visit helps students picture themselves as a future college graduate, and it makes college seem more attainable.” Students who complete a majority of the activities in the program are eligible to participate in the campus visit, which occurs near the end of the Blueprints sessions.
Blueprints has witnessed tremendous success with both students and coaches in the program. Shelton State Community College student, De’Shawn Hall, serves as a Blueprints coach at Central High School in Tuscaloosa. “The Blueprints program is a great resource to students who wouldn’t know about the different aspects of college,” says Hall. “From applying to college, getting dorm assignments, and even adjusting from high school to college, I am pleased to be a part of that transition!”
According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, 55% of Alabama’s jobs will require post-secondary education by the year 2018. With the support of the Blueprints curriculum, 11th grade students who complete the program will leave high school with the resources and plans they need to succeed in the colleges and careers of their choice.