Many students want to go to college but feel they may not be academically ready. The reasons for this vary. For some, their high school education simply didn’t provide them with a solid educational foundation, and they may need to brush up on some basics. Others may have been away from formal education for a long period of time and need a refresher. Whatever the reason, most states have some sort of program available to help these students, who otherwise might not make it to college or might fall between the cracks.
I am most familiar with Pennsylvania’s program, Act 101, as I was the Act 101 Counselor at my community college. New York’s program is called the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). It’s likely that your state has a similar program. I’d like to discuss the advantages of such programs.
Programs such as Act 101 allow access to college for a wider variety of people, despite standardized test scores and GPA. Preparatory or developmental classes are often required to ensure that the student has the foundation in math, reading, and English skills needed to be successful throughout their college career, and programs usually have certain eligibility requirements. Act 101 has both economic and educational criteria for acceptance, but neither are extremely stringent and allow for a large number of students to be accepted to the program.
These services are called “support programs” for a reason. Students enrolled in such programs receive academic support as well as emotional and advisory support. For example, Act 101 students are assigned a specific Act 101 Counselor, in addition to their regular academic adviser, who monitors their academic process and meets with them on a regular basis. This additional contact acts as a preventive measure to help deal with any issues as they occur.
The Act 101 Counselor acts as an adviser and can assist the student with obtaining and locating necessary resources. Often, students who are in programs such as this are more familiar and comfortable with college services than most students. Another perk of such programs is additional tutoring. Act 101 students are entitled to more free tutoring hours than the general student population.
There are other perks to academic support programs. Many Act 101 programs provide additional activities, trips, or workshops for their students. There are also opportunities for students to attend the annual Act 101 Conference. Students involved in these programs have the chance to bond with their fellow program members and can gain numerous leadership experiences that will look good to employers.
So be sure to ask admissions representatives of your intended school if they have a support program, should you feel you may qualify.