Co-op Legacy Fellow Alexandra Goldhamer

A Holistic Approach to Facilitating College Readiness

2021-22 UConn Co-op Legacy Fellowship – Change Grant Project

My Change Grant project focused on providing a holistic approach to college readiness by collaborating with Windham High School (WHS) to design, implement, and instruct a college preparation program. The weekly sessions focused on resume building, college search, scholarship search, college essay writing, navigating the Common Application, and touring UConn. 

During Spring 2021, I took Power, Privilege, and Public Education as part of my Human Rights major, and was able to learn more about how race and socioeconomic status inform access to education and higher education attainment rates. Learning about differential and unequal school funding and how this leads to areas of concentrated poverty, inspired me to undertake a project that works toward closing the gaps in higher education attainment and readiness. During the same semester, I tutored students at a local underfunded high school in chemistry and physics, and was able to gain insight into how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their education; it was clear that the pandemic had exacerbated pre-existing educational disparities, thus further necessitating intervention programs that would prepare students for higher education. Serving as a mentor for the Academic Achievement Center during the same semester also allowed me to gain insight into the hardships that some students were having navigating the college transition, further inspiring my Change Grant project.

During Summer 2021, I worked as a tutor/counselor for the College Preparation course as part of the UConn College Access and Preparation Program (UCAP). Through this experience, I developed a passion for assisting students through the college process by guiding them through the financial aid process, resume building, and college essay writing. The goal of my Change Grant project was to extend the resources that UCAP has to offer to all interested WHS juniors, rather than solely those who qualified for participation in UCAP. My WHS juniors have gained insight into college life through a UConn tour, and have completed their Common Applications, resumes, college and scholarship lists, and college essay drafts.

I hope to have effectively provided the resources that aim to help students become motivated to pursue higher education. Importantly, they have inspired me to become an effective mentor for students navigating the college process. The dedication of the WHS students to succeed in this program drove home the importance of providing adequate resources for students to realize their potential, and fostering an environment that is conducive to learning and growth. I hope to continue my work in promoting college readiness at WHS by developing this college preparation program into a UConn Community Outreach program.