Program gives hope to students who had counted college out - KCTV5

Program gives hope to students who had counted college out

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For many students, a higher education seems out of reach for financial reasons, but a program spawned from the University of Missouri is showing students that they can get there with a little encouragement. For many students, a higher education seems out of reach for financial reasons, but a program spawned from the University of Missouri is showing students that they can get there with a little encouragement.
The schools that have the program saw a more than 10 percent spike in college bound students. The schools that have the program saw a more than 10 percent spike in college bound students.
Several partners are investing in the program, but it needs additional funding since it costs the program $46,000 each year to put an advisor in a school. Several partners are investing in the program, but it needs additional funding since it costs the program $46,000 each year to put an advisor in a school.
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

For many students, a higher education seems out of reach for financial reasons, but a program spawned from the University of Missouri is showing students that they can get there with a little encouragement.

Zakiyyah Lester had no intention of ever walking the halls at the University of Missouri-Kansas City or any college campus.

"I was just always (thinking) my parents would be happy if I just graduated high school, found a good job and I'm done," Lester said.

That changed last year.

Lester was a senior at Central Academy in the Kansas City Public School District. The school has seen its share of socioeconomic challenges and crime.

Gerald McLemore, a college advisor, told Lester and her class how they could take control of their lives.

"I always tell my students, 'you want to make money, what do you think it takes to get there,'" McLemore said.

McLemore is one of many college advisors with Missouri College Advising Corps, a program designed to help students find a means to a higher education.

The program been around for five years. Since then, the number of high school students who go on to college, state wide, has increased by .3 percent.

The schools that have the program saw a more than 10 percent spike in college bound students.

"Definitely building relationships with these students is working and giving them an avenue where they feel like they have a goal to reach like college and this program gets them there," McLemore said.

College advisors work through financial aid forms, college and scholarship applications and ACT preparations.

The program has had great success at Central Academy. The certificates line their walls, showing students who've received college acceptance letters and scholarships.

Lester feels the program has changed her life.

"It really opened the doors for me for a lot of new things," Lester said.

The directors with the program from across the country are meeting Thursday to discuss the success, as well as how to expand the program to more schools.

Missouri advisors will interact this year with more than 25,000 students in 25 high schools in the metro, St. Louis and rural and south-central Missouri.

Several partners are investing in the program, but it needs additional funding since it costs the program $46,000 each year to put an advisor in a school.

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