College Readiness Program
The Program offers education and support for students living in the Reading School District, to encourage and support them in remaining in school and exploring the possibility of attending college. The program works in conjunction with a program at the Olivet Boys and Girls Club that provides college application assistance for juniors and seniors. Sponsored by the Holleran Center for Community Engagement at Alvernia University, the College Readiness Program now has a partnership with the Reading High School to provide educational support programs and introduction to college to Reading High School students. Programs include tutoring, campus visits, assistance with college applications and an introduction to college. Based on previous experience, the program will be enhanced in 2016-17 to offer special programming in STEM subjects.
In 2015-2016 268 Reading High School students in grades 10, 11 and 12, participated in some element of the Alvernia program, meaning that they went on college campus visits and participated in tutoring and after school programming. 52 of these students participated in at least ten of these activities. Of the 268 students who participated in the program, 63 were seniors who went on to graduate from high school. Of the 52 students who participated in ten or more activities, 17 went on to post-secondary education. The remainder are rising juniors and seniors.
Altogether 103 Alvernia students volunteered in the program providing 1,918 hours of service.
In the Fall of 2016, four students who participated in the College Readiness Program will enroll at Alvernia as Alvernia Reading Collegiate Scholars.
In addition, Alvernia continued to work with the college preparation program sponsored by the Olivet Boys and Girls Clubs. Alvernia work-study students attended workshops and helped students with SAT/ACT sign-up, arranging college visits, college fairs, assisting with financial aid applications and sharing their college experiences. Twenty of the seniors participating in the Olivet program expressed interest in Alvernia, seventeen applied and fifteen were accepted. Five of the accepted students enrolled at Alvernia, three of whom are Reading Collegiate Scholars.
College Success Program
For the past three years, Alvernia has enrolled underserved, but college capable students living in the Reading School District as Reading Collegiate Scholars. Using a cohort model, the Reading Collegiate Scholars programs provides supports, incentives and financial aid designed to enable these students succeed in college. Each student accepted into the program is provided with a full tuition scholarship. Private donors provide half of each scholarship, with the university supplementing these grants with university, state and federal scholarships where available.
In 2014, the first group of five scholars enrolled at Alvernia. Because the cohort model is vital to the success of the program, four other entering students from Reading were added to the group and received the same supports as the admitted Scholars except for the guaranteed scholarship assistance. In 2015, the second cohort of ten scholars enrolled at Alvernia and in August a third cohort of ten scholars will be enrolled this fall.
The scholars start their college career by participating in a “Summer Bridge Program” which not only introduces the students and their families to college life, but begins to equip them with the tools to succeed. The students take personality and learning style assessments, are offered programming in leadership development, conflict resolution, diversity training and self-advocacy. They are introduced to support services on campus, such as University Life, the Educational Support Center, the Media Suite and the Library. This year additional programming will be offered in Science and Math Education, balancing School, Family and Work and Well-Being. The Bridge program concludes with an event that introduces the scholar and his or her family to the faculty, staff and community members who are available to support them.
Each scholar signs a compact with the University agreeing to maintain a certain grade point average, to be involved in campus activities and when they conclude their college career, to plan to give back to society for the benefit that they have received. Each scholar is assigned a community mentor, with whom they are to maintain contact throughout their college career. The community mentor can help the student plan their career, seek out job and internship opportunities and help by offering personal advice and counseling. To date, 27 members of the greater Reading community have volunteered their time as community mentors.
In addition, each cohort is provided a faculty mentor. While each student has an academic adviser, depending on his or her major, the faculty mentor is available to help the students in adjusting to college life, identifying support services and helping to plan their career path. While the faculty mentors are there to support the cohort to which they are assigned, they had provided assistance and counseling to other scholars not in their assigned cohort. The scholars are to meet monthly with their faculty mentor either as a group or individually, throughout their time at Alvernia.