The end of the school year is an exciting time for Bottom Line high school students and their Access Program counselors. After several months of submitting applications, editing countless essays, and securing financial aid, we see the amazing results of our work.

“Wow! Is that it? Are we like done? I can’t believe that I’m going to college,” said one of my students as we finished discussing the next steps at her last meeting.

Another student’s parent said, “Thank you so much for helping my daughter! I don’t know how you do this job—I would be so bored, but thank you for your time and patience!”

For many students in our program, making the decision to attend college was one of the most important decisions in their lives, and it’s a decision we as counselor take seriously. For low-income, first-generation students, it’s a tremendous financial investment. One of the key things that Bottom Line values during the decision-making process is financial aid and the affordability of our student’s schools. According to the article “How Counselors Can Shape the College Plans of First-Generation Students” from The Chronicle of Higher Education, “the time counselors spent on college-going activities had a statistically significant effect…on students’ perception that college was affordable.” As organization, one of Bottom Line’s core values is responsibility, and, as counselors, we have a responsibility to assist students in making an affordable choice when choosing a college by informing them of all of their options. I’m happy to report that the majority of our students have made financially sound decisions about the school they will attend.

But, for low-income, first-generation students, getting into college is just the first step. Nationwide, only one-third of college students from these backgrounds actually graduate. Bottom Line’s Success Program prevents this by giving students who attend one of 20 regional Massachusetts colleges up to six years of one-on-one college counseling. The overwhelming majority of our students will be enrolling in the program: in Massachusetts, 89% of eligible students have attended or will attend Success Kick Offs, where they have the opportunity to learn more about the Success Program and what the services that they can expect to receive from Bottom Line during their college years.

I can remember hearing the enthusiasm and, at times, the relief of students who decided to participate in the program—they were glad to know that they could still receive Bottom Line’s help in college!

Before most of our students begin their college careers, they will be working, travelling, and/or participating in a summer bridge program at their institution. Unlike a lot of college students, our students have to work to support themselves and their families. Nonetheless, they are going to college with the hope of gaining the knowledge and capital to make their community a better place.

– Deandra Roberts, Access Program Counselor

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