Every student who graduates from high school in Montgomery County deserves the opportunity to go to college or technical school.
CollegeTracks changes lives and communities by giving Montgomery County’s low-income, first-generation-to-college students the chance to go to college where they can succeed with enough financial aid and continued support to help them attain the degree they seek.
Montgomery County is an affluent county with an excellent public school system. However, many smart, motivated low-income Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) graduates do not make it to and through college simply because they lack the support they need to navigate the complicated higher education application and financial aid process. In fact, far too many low-income, minority students do not enroll in higher education within one year of high school graduation compared to their more affluent peers. There is a growing opportunity gap between students based on income and ethnicity that should not exist. CollegeTracks provides hands-on, personalized support to hundreds of students who are at risk of falling off the path to getting a college education and a better life.
The need for CollegeTracks in Montgomery County could never be greater since the fastest growing demographic group in the County is low-income, minority families. What many people do not realize is that there are more low-income students in the MCPS school system than the District of Columbia. Low-income is commonly identified as students who are or have ever received free and reduced priced meals (FARMS).
Helping these at risk low-income students is not only a fairness issue but also a workforce development issue. According to a recent report, Addressing Workforce Development in Montgomery County: An Economy at a Crossroads, January 2015, published by SkillSmart, Inc. on behalf of the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development:
…For those with a high school diploma or less, there are no high-demand jobs available (in Montgomery County over the next ten years) that will pay enough to live in the county. Period.
Full-time CollegeTracks staff are embedded in the schools and along with a trained and supervised volunteer staff, work individually with students and families at Wheaton and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High Schools (B-CC HS) to advise and support them through the numerous milestone activities required to get admitted to college, find enough financial aid to attend, enroll, persist and graduate.
Since 2003, CollegeTracks has served more than 2,600 students. In 2013-14, almost 600 junior and senior high school students received College Admissions and Financial Aid Advising services and 186 college students received College Success Advising.
- College Admission: CollegeTracks students admitted to colleges that fit their abilities and interests: All 340 CollegeTracks seniors were admitted to one of more than 220 colleges or vocational schools. 58% were admitted to four-year colleges.
- Financial Aid Support: CollegeTracks students offered more than $7.3 million in financial aid for their first year of college and earned high-value scholarships including POSSE, Questbridge, Gates Millennium, Horatio Alger, Herb Denton, NAACP, Maryland Guaranteed Access Grant, and New Futures.
- CollegeTracks Enrollment Rates: Of the 2028 CollegeTracks students from 2007-2013, 80% enrolled in college compared to 62% of low-income students nationally and 57% of low-income graduates of MCPS.
- CollegeTracks Persistence Rates: Of those CollegeTracks students who enrolled, 90% persisted to a second year. In contrast, for all students nationally, the average retention rate to a second year is 54% for students at 2-year institutions and 77% for students at 4-year institutions.
- Enrollment and Persistence Rates for CollegeTracks College Success Program Participants: Of the 270 Students (2010-2013) who enrolled in the Success Program: 98% enrolled in college and 94% persisted to a second year.
- CollegeTracks Graduation Rates: Of the 263 CollegeTracks graduates from the 2007 and 2008 classes, 47% received a degree; 36% attained 4-year degrees. In contrast, only 21% of low-income students nationwide who enroll in college attain a bachelor’s degree.