High school sophomores from St. Joseph’s Preparatory School shadowed Boston College students earlier this month as part of the College Road program.
College Road began because St. Joseph’s was looking for a partnership with BC that would complement its college preparatory education. Now, it is a full-fledged program that works with every grade of St. Joseph’s students.
The ninth grade at St. Joseph’s comes to BC for a campus tour and to meet with the admissions office, and the 10th grade attends classes and listens to a panel of undergraduates talk about their college experience. In 11th grade, the students go on tours of other colleges that are sponsored by Urban Outreach, and in 12th grade, the students are brought back to BC to learn more about life in college and how to navigate financial aid.
“The idea is that we’re complementing the … the college-going curriculum that St. Joseph’s has through this sort of partnership,” said Catherine Wong, director of the Lynch School of Education’s Urban Outreach Initiatives.
The sophomore shadow day was held this year on Nov. 7—St. Joseph’s students sat in with undergraduates on a variety of classes and attended a panel in which they listened to students’ experiences with the college process and were able to ask them questions about college life.
“Our partnership with Boston College is one of the defining characteristics of Saint Joseph Prep,” Tom Nunan, St. Joseph’s headmaster and BC ’84, said in an email. “The College Road Program, coordinated through Urban Outreach, is both unique and impactful.
“The feedback I received about the quality of program and the hospitality of the BC community speaks volumes about BC’s commitment to Catholic education as well as about the critical need of this program for our young women and men. The day they spent at the Heights is helping them to envision a new future, and to see college as the clear next step in their personal and professional journeys.”
College Road falls under the Collaborative Partnerships branch of Urban Outreach, which also includes Early College Exploration—another program that seeks to provide students with unique opportunities to learn about college life. Urban Outreach also encompasses the College Bound program and the Donovan Urban Teaching Scholars program.
“The students really love the hands-on part of coming here,” Wong said. “It’s one thing for them to sort of study and read up on schools, but [another] to actually meet with an undergraduate admissions office, to be able to walk the BC campus.”
The Collaborative Partnerships branch of Urban Outreach also reaches out to schools in the Boston area to figure out how Urban Outreach can best help them. While Urban Outreach focused on developing a program that would complement the school’s curriculum with St. Joseph’s, it also works with elementary and middle schools in the Boston area—with which it does panels, college tours, and mock classes.
“It’s not focused sort of on exactly the way we did St. Joe’s, because that’s not exactly what all the schools need,” Wong said.
Wong said that Urban Outreach focuses on partnering with schools based on what they need. Some schools are interested in looking at ways to assist English language learners, and a number are interested in early college intervention—not waiting until students get to high school to have programming that allows them to see what a college experience is like.
Collaborative Partnerships not only works to bring students to BC, but BC undergraduate and graduate students also do workshops for families in schools—creating what Wong referred to as a “dual pipeline” between the schools and BC.
“It is about access, and being able to open access to families—not just students, but to their families, so that whether it be BC or another college, it becomes that this is not a dream deferred, but this can be a dream that you have,” she said.
Wong said that Urban Outreach programming focuses on looking at urban communities as places of strength so that they build up young people and families from these communities, as opposed to tearing them down with stereotypes. She noted that the graduate students who work for Urban Outreach have said that the programs have enjoyed the ability to give back to the community, in addition to gaining hands-on experience related to their future careers.
“I think it’s been really helpful for me as a student to be able to have experience working with adolescents of color, which is a population of interest for me, and be able to make college a possibility for them, to introduce them to it,” said Alexis Briggs, this year Collaborative Partnerships coordinator and LGSOE ’19. “I know in my experience as a high school student, college access was something that was introduced to me late, so I really appreciate this office’s mission to make college a possibility for them from day one.”
Featured Image Courtesy of St. Joseph’s Preparatory School