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College Track, 14 Universities to Support First-Gen College Students

The nonprofit College Track has partnered with 14 universities to offer online courses and resources to first-generation college students and help them navigate the transition from secondary to higher education.

A group of high school students walking into school a building.
Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images
The college-completion nonprofit College Track is working with 14 higher-ed institutions on online courses and advisement resources to help guide first-generation college students from high school through to completion of their degrees.

According to a news release last week, the partnerships will recruit cohorts of five to 25 students for online courses and in-person support from College Track’s staff, with administrative support coming from the universities. Students admitted to the College Track program will participate for 10 years of their education, starting in ninth grade and continuing through college. Participating institutions include American University, Bowie State University, Colorado State University at Fort Collins, Colorado State University at Pueblo, Colorado State University Global, Lycoming College, Middlebury College, Northern Arizona University, Paul Quinn College, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Trinity College, Tulane University and University of California at Merced.

Among the latest College Track partners is Arizona State University, which will now give College Track scholars access to ASU’s Professional Skills for Everyone curriculum online, with the goal of providing students a flexible way to build practical career skills.

“If we meet learners where they are with learning opportunities early on, and we really stay with them and support them, there is nothing they can’t accomplish. This is a commitment to every learner that we will help them reach their college and career goals,” Maria Anguiano, executive vice president of ASU’s Learning Enterprise, said in a public statement.

Taylor Pineda, national director of the hybrid program ASU Local, said that in addition to the online courses and resources offered to all College Track students, the partnership will grant full tuition to up to five College Track scholars to ASU’s Barrett Honors College, where the cohort will continue their studies together.

Pineda said that such partnerships with College Track will also help students find internships and other learning experiences that could make them competitive in the job market. She added that the program’s online offerings aim to make higher-ed courses and career upskilling resources more accessible to first-generation or low-income college students who might otherwise lack the guidance needed to complete their studies.

“We really intentionally worked with College Track staff to look at the entire course of a student’s experience in their program. So, what are they doing from that ninth-grade year where they first enter the College Track ecosystem all the way through when they’re graduating college?” she said. “We know over 40 percent of students entering college are first-gen students, and only about a third of those students graduate, so that work really has to start early on.”

Pineda said the partnership with College Track could help students make connections between what they are learning and careers they wish to pursue. She added that through programs like ASU Professional Skills for Everyone, students can use an online curriculum to learn relevant career skills and stay refreshed on what they’re learning in order to carry their knowledge and skill sets into college and beyond.

“I think that because we’ve designed this experience over the course of 10 years, there’s an incredible opportunity to show how supporting students on a continuum of their educational experience is really critical to them for developing those essential skills to be successful throughout their lifelong education journey. A big [goal] for us is really being able to do that starting with a student in ninth grade and continuing with them across their entire experience,” she said. “This is a good example of what can happen when we think about both and how to make the transition easier.”

According to Rosanna Ferro, chief of education at College Track, scholars will be able to apply for admissions starting next year through the recent partnerships. She added that the professional skills courses for college students will be available in the spring, while courses for high school students will be available in fall 2024.

“We are, in essence, spending this entire year building the infrastructure to support our scholars to be able to register and sign up, and then making sure that our scholars and their families are advised appropriately in terms of what it means to actually be enrolled in college courses,” she said.
Brandon Paykamian is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, mainly focusing on public education and higher ed.