A recent study by The Ford Family Foundation and Education Northwest (2021) shows that the gap between rural and nonrural high school students enrolling in college has increased. Our Navigate pilot program aims to help close that gap by serving historically underserved students living in rural communities in Oregon. A hybrid of in-person and tech-connected programming, the program serves juniors and seniors at eight high schools in Columbia, Washington, Morrow, and Umatilla counties. Its curriculum includes topics like community building, college exploration and goal setting, test preparation, college applications, financial aid consulting, and enrollment. Once Navigate students graduate from high school, they continue receiving support from a College Possible near-peer coach until they earn their college degree.
Navigate Campus Tours
Despite the tremendous shifts in higher education access, retention, and success, College Possible Oregon was able to bring back an impactful College Visit Tour for junior and senior high school students from our Eastern Oregon partner high schools. Navigate Program Coordinator Efrain Ortega pulled together a student experience that will last a lifetime.
After a month’s work of planning, coordinating, and outreach to various colleges, the trip took place May 9–10, 2022. During the overnight campus tour of four schools — Warner Pacific University, Oregon State University, Western Oregon University, and University of Oregon — 21 students were able to envision their futures and gain insight from a team of educators who work every day to inspire the next generation of leaders.
At OSU, the students toured the campus with Vice Provost for Student Affairs Dan Larson and Maria and America, who are Riverside High School alumni and current first-year, College Possible students at OSU. At WOU, we were thrilled to have June and Autumn, who are Centennial High School alumni, current College Possible students, and first-year students at WOU, join us and chat with students about what life is like at Western. Then at U of O, thank you to Emme, a second-year College Possible student and St. Helens alumna, for spending time with us! It was incredible to have so many College Possible college students there to connect with our high school students and share their experiences.
The trip helped me see that colleges are not only just for academic fit but also for people to express themselves socially” – Nely, McLoughlin High School student
Joined by College Possible staff, the 21 Navigate students got a glimpse of what the college lifestyle has in store for their future. The students made strong connections with one another even though they attend three separate partner high schools. Connections are bound to be created when traveling in two 15-passenger vans, touring universities, and staying overnight in the residence halls.
This program has allowed me to gain a family while preparing for college” – Ivonne, McLoughlin High School student
Overall, connecting with student ambassadors and university staff who described their own experiences navigating the college journey made a difference for our students’ college plans. Thanks to a passionate and dedicated team of educators in College Possible, college tours like these are an important step toward removing the barriers to earning a college degree.
Donna Thompson at Clatskanie Middle & High School, one of our Navigate partner schools, has responded to the needs of her community by initiating and running what she calls the “Share Shed.” The Share Shed is a room full of clothing, shoes, makeup, toiletries, and more for the use of students in need because, as she says, “When children are fed and clothed, it’s easier for them to learn.” In support of Donna’s initiative and our Clatskanie community, this year’s Navigate team initiated a clothing and in-kind donation drive for the Share Shed. Like Donna, we recognize that helping to secure students’ basic needs is foundational to their educational success. Together, we gathered $350 in in-kind donations and two carloads of clothing and supplies. We’re grateful for the chance to strengthen College Possible’s relationship with Clatskanie Middle & High School and look forward to seeing the Share Shed — and our students — thrive!