College

Increase Access to College

We create a focused, college-bound culture and provide access to unique networks of opportunity.

Objectives

100%

of long-term program participants graduate high school.

100%

of graduating participants apply to and enroll in college.

Through exposure to unique educational and professional networks, scholars become more socially mobile.

Giving young scholars the tools to succeed after high school

Our Road to College program is modeled after the other Squash and Education Alliance programs that send 96% of their high school graduates to a post-secondary degree program. It is our goal that 100% of our students gain access to and enroll in a post-secondary program with 85% graduating within 6 years.

In order to achieve these goals, we have developed an intensive and long-term college access program that combines academic intervention, mentoring, and national travel to give scholars the resources for sustained success in life.

Throughout their time in middle and high school, scholars not only continue to receive academic tutoring for their current subjects, but they also engage in rigorous 21st-century skills projects to increase academic knowledge retention and develop necessary characteristics for success.

Furthermore, scholars receive programming around financial aid and college applications, are provided with tutoring for the SAT/ACT, complete professional internships in fields of interest, meet with college admissions counselors, tour college campuses around the country, and are assigned mentors who work with them on their college goals.

Scholars in high school receive 100 hours per year of academic intervention and project-based learning and 130 hours annually of college access workshops, mentoring, and test preparation.

The Road to College

Academic Intervention

As one of the few college access programs serving an academically diverse body of students in Houston, Mission Squash understands that targeting and closing academic gaps through regular academic intervention and tutoring is the key to long-term success in school and is a critical part of gaining access to college. Our goal is that each middle school scholar is on or above grade level in math, reading, and writing by the time they enter high school.

Each week, Mission Squash staff review grades and communicate with teachers to identify and close scholars’ academic gaps in specific subjects. When course specific tutoring is necessary, scholars are matched with a 1-1 tutor who has significant expertise to assist them in mastering the material. In addition, scholars complete quarterly academic testing on our campus in math, reading, and writing. These scores, along with grades and feedback from teachers, are utilized to create individual learning plans for scholars to help us target and close gaps and created accelerated growth in proficient areas.

High School Access Advising

Middle school scholars and families receive support and assistance in determining best-fit high schools. Our College Access Director works closely with scholar families to determine which schools (including HISD public schools, local private schools, and boarding schools) are most suited to each individual child. All families receive 1-1 advising in order to match scholars with opportunities that align with their learning styles, academic interests, and social needs. 

Scholars who are determined to be strong applicants for local private schools and national boarding schools enter into our Private High School Placement Program and receive comprehensive application support, coaching, exam preparation, and financial aid application support. Within 4 years we have placed 4 scholars in private and boarding schools, including Choate Rosemary Hall, St. Paul’s School, Westminster School, and St. Pius X.

College Access Advising & Support

Beginning in 9th grade, scholars are given regular workshops to better understand how they can make themselves a strong applicant for colleges and universities. By 11th grade, scholars are matched with volunteer advisors from within our College Access Council who are to remain with them through 12th grade. Scholars build strong relationships with their advisors who help them to set goals, establish potential school lists, assist them with finding and securing internships, and prepare for and review their college applications. By the time scholars reach the college application phase, advisors have an established rapport with scholars that will enable them to help build an application that highlights scholars’ unique skills and interests and determine which schools are suited to their personalities, academic interests, and professional passions. Introducing a long-term advisor and mentor (a figure whom those from low-income communities typically lack) can make the difference in a scholar being admitted into a school of best-fit. Our college access support also includes: 

  • SAT/ACT test preparation classes
  • IB/AP test preparation
  • Financial aid and scholarship application support
  • Family workshops to build understanding
  • Regional and national college visits
  • High school internships to explore potential career paths
Persistence

While it is not Mission Squash’s goal to “hold their hands” through college, our program ensures that scholars understand how to support themselves as independent young adults in college and beyond. Prior to entering college, all scholars receive assistance in managing and tracking items on their college entry checklists and complete a summer life skills course that teaches personal finance, cooking, work-study employment, managing college work and their personal lives, and wellness. Once scholars have matriculated into their respective colleges, Mission Squash staff check-in with them on their mental and physical well-being, connect them to on-campus resources, and ensure that they feel confident in their abilities to manage collegiate life. As they apply for college internships and post-collegiate professions, Mission Squash staff and volunteers support scholars in preparing resumes and practicing for interviews, and aid them in the transition from college to their next phase of life.

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