Philadelphia Futures supports students well beyond college acceptance and enrollment. As students navigate class registration, financial aid, residential life, relationships with professors, adjustments to campus culture, and the many other elements of college life, a College Success Advisor provides ongoing guidance and connections to necessary resources. This support continues throughout college, and includes assistance with post-graduation planning for careers or further education.
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Ensuring Students’ Success
College Success Advisors regularly provide personalized guidance concerning academic, social, and personal issues, including accessing on-campus resources for tutoring and counseling; managing time, stress, and family matters; setting goals; and communicating with professors and administrators. Students participate in twice-yearly mandatory meetings to monitor grades, review progress toward academic and career goals, and to troubleshoot any financial barriers, as well as monitor school debt. The College Success Advisors also keep in touch regularly via phone, email, campus visits, and social media pages.
Visits to Campus
In 2017-2018, Philadelphia Futures expanded its practice of visiting collegians on their campuses as data proved it resulted in an increase in both retention and graduation rates. Students find it meaningful for their advisors to see them in the space of their daily college life, and advisors find the visits vital in providing the best advice and support.
Partnership with Schools
In addition to our College Partnerships, the College Success team also partners with staff at many of the colleges and universities attended by our students. This collaboration enables us to leverage resources and networks for the benefit of our collegians.
The Career Futures Summer Internship Program connects Philadelphia Futures collegians to meaningful opportunities for learning and development in a professional work environment. Philadelphia Futures has been working with collegians since they were in high school, and they have been well-prepared through academic enrichment, mentoring, college guidance, and other programming. The goal of this program is to help collegians fine-tune soft skills and learn industry-specific knowledge that potential employers expect to see when hiring new college graduates. Through this program, we partner with local employers to provide industry-relevant experience and clearly defined skills development to students, along with an on-site mentor. We match students with employers to interview for a paid internship that lasts a minimum of six weeks. In preparation for this training, collegians attend workshops on resume and cover letter development, interview strategies and best practices, and internship success training that covers corporate culture, professional dress, networking, professional communication, and other skills for success.
In addition to intensive advising support, Philadelphia Futures is also able to provide financial support to ensure success in college. Through generous donors, we provide stipends each semester to assist with textbooks, transportation, and other indirect costs of attending college. We also award several scholarships each year, created by generous Philadelphia Futures supporters, which help to fill the gap between a student’s financial aid package and the actual cost of attendance at their chosen school. Philadelphia Futures’ goal is for students to graduate career-ready and with manageable debt.
The results of our College Success program and its graduates demonstrate the power of our approach. The college graduation rate for first-generation, low-income students nationally is 11%, according to a Pell Institute study of students who first enrolled in fall 2003. The college graduation rate for Philadelphia Futures’ most recent classes is over 70%.