“Something as small as a missing tax return can prevent a student from going to college”
The St Louis Graduates High School to College Center, now in its fifth year, exists for one purpose only. It wants to beat the “summer melt.” Summer melt affects many high school graduates, particularly those first in their family to attend college or who live on their own, said center project director Laura Winter. They have been accepted into college, but haven’t finished all of the paperwork, or may have gaps in financial aid. They don’t have anywhere to turn, Laura said. As many as 40% of them don’t make it to college.
The center, an initiative of St. Louis Graduates, is located at 618 North Skinker in the Delmar Loop. It is open Tuesdays and Thursdays in June and July from 10 – 4. IWF was an original funder, and a center supporter for several years. It is a perfect match for IWF’s mission of education, particularly for those from distressed neighborhoods.
The program has three important elements, Laura said. We know that as little as two to three hours of additional counselling can make the difference between someone attending college or not, she said. We know that having “near-peer’ outreach, college students interacting with the high school graduates, is essential, and we know that text message reminders are critical to our success.
Alan Byrd, Jr., dean of enrollment services for the University of Missouri-St. Louis, is a co-chair for the center’s steering committee. He understands the center’s value. “I have seen students postpone their college plans for reasons as small as not being able to provide a copy of their parents’ tax return, or the inability to pay a small enrollment deposit,” he said. We can help with that.