CHAPEL HILL – First-generation college students face so many barriers:  Standardized tests, applications, financial aid forms, deciding which schools to consider – even knowing how a college campus feels.

For many, the process can be formidable.

That’s where the College Advising Corps comes in, University of North Carolina President Margaret Spellings says in the accompanying video.

The innovative program has placed recent graduates of UNC Chapel Hill, NC State, Duke and Davidson in 127 mostly rural North Carolina high schools to support students who might be the first in their families to go to college.

“What it does is take first-generation students who have completed higher education and send them into high schools for two years to work with, often, first-generation students, help them fill out financial aid forms, help them select colleges that are a good match for them, and really inspire them, by virtue of being first-generation themselves, that it can be done,” Spellings says.

“They break down that mythology that college is not for them.  Things like that really are bearing fruit – not only for those students, but of course for all of us, their fellow citizens.”

A survey conducted by a team from Stanford University found that high-school students who interact with the Advising Corps are:

  • 30% more likely to apply to a college or university;
  • 24% more likely to be accepted;
  • 17% more likely to visit a college or university;
  • 26% more likely to submit the FAFSA financial-aid form;
  • 18% more likely to apply to three or more institutions; and
  • 20% more likely to take three or more AP or SAT prep courses.1

The national College Advising Corps is based in Chapel Hill and has received support from the John M. Belk Endowment and others.


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