AdviseAZ: College peers help high school students navigate the road to college
When the time comes to apply to college, the best guides can often be students who recently went through it.
One of the ways Education Forward Arizona is working to help students attain a postsecondary education is through the AdviseAZ AmeriCorps program, which places current college students or recent college graduates in low-income (Title I) high schools to act as near-peer advisers.
These advisers work alongside high school counselors and staff to help students navigate the complexities of the college exploration process, admissions tests, applications, and FAFSA and financial aid, as they pursue postsecondary education.
A cohort of 50 AdviseAZ members are helping more than 2,500 students, who are low-income, first-generation and/or students of color. Their efforts, funded through AmeriCorps, aims to increase the number of high school students who enter and complete postsecondary education.
“Many of the students we work with come from low-income families and will be first-generation college students, or are underrepresented in other ways,” said AdviseAZ member Samantha Hui.
“On top of the difficulty that comes with completing their senior year of high school and beginning college and financial aid applications, they also struggle with overloaded schedules, family obligations and personal and financial responsibilities,” said Hui, who works at College Bound in Mesa.
AdviseAZ AmeriCorps has served school districts and community agencies since 2019 across Arizona in cities like Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff, as well as rural areas such as Yuma, Pinal, Cochise, Gila, Mohave and Graham counties.
Each member strives to meet the needs of youth and expand the coordination between school districts and other social service and community agencies to increase college-going and attainment rates.
“I hope that with our efforts, we can help our students not only gain affordable admission to college but help them become their own self-advocates in pursuing the future they always dreamed of,” said Hui.
Services provided by AdviseAZ members include:
- One-on-one student advising
- Workshops for students and families
- Senior college applications
- College Application Campaign
- FAFSA completion services
- College fairs
- Scholarship applications
- ACT preparation
- Financial aid literacy
- Summer melt interventions
- FAFSA verification assistance
- ECAP Assistance