Philly program helps first generation, low income students go to college

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Philly program helps high school graduates go to college. Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on April 17, 2018. (WPVI)

Graduation season is almost here, and in Philadelphia, almost 200 low-income students will be looking ahead to college because of a program called College Possible Philadelphia.

"I'm going to Temple University, their Fox School of Business," said Camellia Brown.

"I've decided where I'm going to go, Temple University," added Chelsea Jean-Baptiste.

These are words that these two seniors didn't think they'd say.

"I remember my first reaction when I saw my acceptance letter in the mail I ran to my mom, she's a crossing guard, and I ran to her corner, and I was so excited," Brown said.

Jean-Baptiste added, "I was shocked because I'm like I didn't think I'd get in because a lot of people were waitlisted."

Both are on their way to the college of their choice, thanks in part to an innovative and rigorous program that helps first-generation and low-income high school students navigate the college application process which can often be complicated and daunting.

Jen Weikert, Executive Director of College Possible Philadelphia said, "We are providing them with tools and resources to do that, everything from SAT prep to helping them submit applications, helping them to negotiate financial packages. We want them to be savvy college consumers."

The program is called College Possible and its success rate is impressive,

Ninety-eight percent of its high school seniors from the class of 2017 were accepted into college, receiving over $2 Million in much-needed scholarships.

The program is completely free. Eighty percent of its participants are students of color. Ninety percent are the first generation.

"Before all of these programs that I'm in, I didn't know what route to take. It's like I can't go to my parents because they didn't know," said Jean-Baptiste.

Having been a first-generation college student herself, Executive Director Jen Weikert knows first-hand that getting into college and getting through to graduation are two separate challenges.

"We want to see them stay in college and achieve their dreams so having someone to call about a financial aid issue, a roommate issue, and a class issue can make all the difference," she said.

College Possible only works with schools right now, but if you're a parent looking for more information, click here.

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