College Now program helps Cleveland school scholars get into top-level colleges

Jun 22, 2013 by

Science-2By Evan Winston –

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Royale Nicholson recently graduated from John Hay Early College, and soon on her way to New York University Shanghai. Yes, that Shanghai. Not only will she go to school in China in the fall, she will be on a full ride.

“I was filling out the application for NYU, and I saw there was an option for a Shanghai campus,” said Royale.

So, the 17-year-old decided not to send her application to NYU’s main campus, and applied instead to the campus overseas. She was given a scholarship worth $56,000 a year. She’ll study business.

Royale did not accomplish all this on her own. She got help from College Now, a Cleveland organization that guides area students in college selection and to financial aid.

Royale is in the Cleveland Foundation College Now Scholars Program, reserved for the top seniors in the Cleveland public schools.

The majority of these students are accepted into top colleges such as Harvard, Cornell, MIT and Case Western Reserve.

“The program was developed with the Cleveland Foundation, taking the top 50 students and matching them with schools that best fit them,” said Lee Friedman, chief executive officer of the organization, that used to be known as the Cleveland Scholarship Programs.

“While students from low-income backgrounds may have the qualifications for top schools, the majority do not know that selective schools can be an option,” Friedman said. Likewise, while the colleges seek these students, they often don’t know how to find them, he said.

A recent study by researchers Caroline Hoxby of Stanford University and Christopher Avery of Harvard University showed that only 34 percent of high-achieving high school seniors with low-income backgrounds attended any of the 238 top colleges in the country.

Helen Williams, the Cleveland Foundation’s program director said, “We want students to apply, be accepted, and enroll in these schools. With guidance, students can have a more broader arrangement of schools [to choose from].”

The Top 50 program costs College Now $130,000 to run, but Friedman said it is worth it. “The results of the past two years proved that it was a great investment,” she said.

This year’s class generated almost $1.5 million in financial aid, about $500,000 more than the previous class.

CWRU will have nine of this year’s students, including Elizabeth Reyes, another John Hay Early College graduate. She is enrolled in the university’s summer bridge program.

She credited College Now for being flexible and working with her around a busy schedule that included taking courses at Cleveland State University.

Autumn Burpo-Jefferson, also a John Hay Early College graduate, will attend the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., with the help of College Now. She advised high school students not to procrastinate if they want to go to a good school.

“It’s never too early to prepare for the ACT/SAT,” she said.

Autumn, Royale and 14 of the other Top 50 students will have adjustments to make as they go to college outside Ohio. Royale’s challenge could be the toughest.

“I only know a little Chinese,” she said.

via College Now program helps Cleveland school scholars get into top-level colleges |

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