LINK Unlimited’s College Readiness programs provide students with in-depth exposure to higher education and one-on-one counseling that complements the advisement that they receive at their respective high schools. During the fall of their senior year all LINK Scholars participate in one-on-one college counseling with LINK Unlimited staff. During these hour long sessions our scholars along with the LINK staff member talk through the students school options and create a list of 5-7 schools for the scholar to apply to.
LINK offers college site visits, which are open to all LINK scholars, October through April of each year. These site visits rotate between 10-14 small, medium and large colleges and universities in the Great Lakes region and 15-20 nationally. These visits guarantee students are exposed to the full range of higher education choices available to them. They also help to acclimate students to campus life and unfamiliar environments, and help to reduce risk factors leading to minority attrition in higher education.
Since studies have shown that test scores are a high predictor of college admissions and scholarship awards; LINK enables economically disadvantaged youth to compete on a level playing field for college admissions testing by providing a four-week ACT foundations class that serves the LINK juniors annually. These classes are supplemented by courses in Writing and Math. In addition, students participate in a six-week preparation course from February through March; followed by a practice test the week prior to the April ACT testing date. Staff includes one program officer and three proctors, classes are held at the LINK headquarters in Chicago. LINK works with Revolution Prep to deliver the ACT preparation classes.
LINK has established partnerships with over 43 colleges and universities. These schools give LINK scholars access to their campus, students and administrators to answer questions and give students relevant information about their school. Bowdoin College, DePauw University, Union College, Pomona College, Colorado College, Denison University, Stanford University, Vanderbilt University, Emory University, Washington University in St. Louis, Hamilton College and Colgate University are a few of our partner schools. We are constantly increasing our partnerships especially with smaller top-ranked schools. These schools post high minority retention rates, offer generous financial award packages, and have high numbers of alumni who attend graduate school.
LINK’s College Readiness program also provides a number of workshops that inform our scholars on the college application process and college life. In the spring we host the “College Knowledge Saturday” which is attended by the students, their parents and many mentors. During this half day conference students, parents and mentors attend a number of breakout sessions. These sessions include: “The Essentials of Standardized Testing and Re-testing”; “Successful College Visits: Making the Right Impression”; “Parent Support and Survival Guide” and “An Admission Guide to the Elite: Tips for Getting into America’s Top 25 Colleges/Universities”. LINK also hosts a three-day “College Application Bootcamp” in Mid-August for our rising seniors. Throughout the three day event scholars attend workshops about finding and choosing the right school, financial aid, free fly-in visits and the myths and realities of college life. They also participate in a number of essay writing workshops and participate in mock college interviews.
In addition to these workshops LINK Unlimited also hosts college information sessions, financial aid workshops and college fairs. These programs present our scholars and their families with the necessary tools and information to choose a college or university that is aligned with their academic and personal needs.