According to the Oregon Department of Education, Oregon public high schools reported graduation rates just under 77 percent for 2021 high school seniors from limited-income backgrounds. This means nearly one in four students from underrepresented communities won’t earn their high school diploma or continue on to college, gaining all the economic mobility a college degree can offer.
At College Possible Oregon, near-peer coaches help narrow the graduation gap for students throughout the state, starting in the students’ junior year in high school and following them wherever they go to college. “In the moments that I felt the horrible weight of impostor syndrome or felt lost about my path, I found strength in knowing that I have something to contribute and that I’m never alone,” says Laura, a College Possible student. “I reminded myself that I have the right to understand. I have the right to learn. I have the right to be here.”
Let’s dive into some unique benefits of AmeriCorps service at the Oregon site, and see how College Possible Oregon coaches spend their time in and outside of their service hours.
Enjoy an AmeriCorps service year empowering college opportunity
College Possible Oregon offers AmeriCorps service positions supporting both high school and college students to and through college; these roles are called college access and success coaches. Running August through June, this service role is a full-time position, with every Friday devoted to in-office professional development for coaches.
As a college access coach, you work with an assigned cohort of students at various partner high schools throughout Oregon. Your coaching runs Monday through Thursday and may include in-person support, tech-connected support, or both. During a typical school week, you’ll manage day-to-day interactions with students while logging student engagement data into Salesforce to track student progress. Time with students is spent helping them navigate key college preparatory milestones: college selection, test prep, applications, and financial aid. “My College Possible coach helped me figure out which college would be a good fit for me and which options would be financially feasible,” shares Lisbeth, a College Possible student. “They made it easy to visualize the financial aid packages for each school I was accepted to, with a spreadsheet that included the various — and often hidden — costs of attending college.”
If you’re selected to serve as a college success coach, you’ll support a cohort of college students to stay on track through degree completion – typically with students spanning multiple universities and colleges. In this role, you’ll help students navigate common college barriers by helping them find study groups, directing them to campus and community resources, and strengthening their time-management and budgeting skills.
“I’m thankful to have had College Possible help me navigate college. I had a lot to manage between work, school and family and it overwhelmed me,” recalls Yulissa, a College Possible student alumna. “In these challenging moments of self-doubt, I reached out to my College Possible coach. For six years I had a built-in support system that was only a phone call or text away — a coach who was consistently there to provide guidance, compassion and reassurance.”
Across the U.S., the average student takes six years to complete a four-year degree. This time may be lengthened by gaps or breaks in schooling. As a college success coach, you may also support unenrolled students to help them get back on track toward their college degree goal. Students who unenroll continue to receive coaching support through any breaks in their degree journey as part of College Possible’s commitment to support students to and through college, no matter how long it takes to reach the finish line.
Live in exciting Portland neighborhoods
One of the best perks of serving at the College Possible Oregon site is living in the beautiful city of Portland. Known for its iconic mountain views and thriving food-truck scene, there’s always something fun to explore with your fellow coaches.
Most Oregon coaches have found that living with one or more roommates is the most cost-effective housing option in the city, while others have found studios or one-bedroom apartments in the inner southeast, outer southeast or downtown Beaverton neighborhoods. If you’re looking to relocate to Portland for your service year, you’ll receive a $500 relocation reimbursement to offset the cost. Funds can be used for a variety of expenses, including hotel fees while you search for your new apartment in the area, a lease deposit, or a moving truck, just to name a few.
Getting around the city to your assigned schools is a breeze with public transportation. The College Possible Oregon office is located just one minute walking distance from the A or B Line Portland Streetcar stop. The same is true for multiple stops on the TriMet, the city’s public bus system. Known as one of the most bike friendly cities in the country with ample bike infrastructure, bike and scooter sharing is also available 24/7 through BikeTown PDX. Those who opt to drive their car to the Oregon office enjoy free office-lot parking.
Explore Portland with your fellow college coaches
An AmeriCorps service year with College Possible is one of the best ways to gain invaluable professional skills to jumpstart your career. It’s also a transformative time to build lifelong friendships with your cohort of college coaches. “My best advice for the next generation of AmeriCorps coaches is to be ready to work hard,” says Madeleine, a College Possible coach. “Most importantly, have fun with the students you’re serving and with your fellow AmeriCorps members. This is an incredible time to meet new people and gain invaluable experiences. Enjoy every moment!”
When they’re not working with students, College Possible Oregon coaches can be found enjoying all that the city and scenery has to offer. South Block Farmers’ Market, located on Portland State University campus, is a favorite Saturday spot amongst coaches. Open eleven months out of the year, this 12-block greenspace regularly hosts over 175 food and craft vendors. Another weekend favorite is the Portland Saturday Market, located at the Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The market, open ten months of the year, is nationally recognized as the largest operating outdoor arts and crafts market in the country, open rain or shine!
Bookworms will prioritize Powell’s Books as their next stop. Coaches frequent this Portland destination to browse over 1 million books spanned across three floors and 3,500 sections. Guilder Cafe is also located within the store, offering the perfect location for a weekend lunch and read.
A service year at College Possible Oregon offers a unique way to empower college opportunity throughout the city, and it’s an excellent launching pad for those deciding between disciplines for master’s degree programs, or for those seeking tangible experience before entering into the nonprofit or education work field. If gaining invaluable professional skills and making a proven impact in your community sounds like a year well spent, please join us at one of our upcoming information sessions or browse our open positions.