By Amanda Kay Oaks, Education Counselor, College Bridge Program
When people ask what I do, I struggle to answer them in a way that doesn’t take, say, an entire blog post. Yes, it’s easy to say that I help nontraditional college students gain access to and success in college, but that doesn’t really capture the reality of our program or the students we serve.
The reality is that there are a thousand and one ways to fall between the cracks during the college process. Before you can even start to worry about making time to go to class or do your homework, you’ve got to get there. That means filling out an application, filing for financial aid, proving your high school education or GED, picking a major, and ensuring that all of this information is received by the deadline—and that’s a simplified list, since many students have complicated situations that require additional steps along the way. For those who aren’t used to working within a bureaucratic system, something as simple as mislabeled information on an application can be the obstacle that defeats a student’s dream of further education.
That’s where we step in. In the College Bridge program, we act as the intermediaries between the student as an individual and the student as part of the college system. For many, we’re a source of friendly encouragement in a process that can often feel overwhelming or overly complicated. I like to think that’s what makes Education Matters unique—our individual focus takes care of the person first and the requirements of the system second. Some students come in to tutor with us every day to help stay caught up on work, while others simply know that we are here whenever those random road bumps or questions pop up.
So many students tell me that they don’t think they could do this without us, or tell me stories of times they’ve been discouraged before, and it truly does show me the value of the work we’re doing here. Because regardless of our students’ goals or the challenges they face, they know that the College Bridge program is here and that we are invested in their success, every step of the way. And sometimes, that alone can make all the difference.