At Perspectives, a Chicago charter school, more than 90 percent of graduates go on to college. But their parents, who rarely have a college education, don’t know how to help students cope with academic or financial problems. So graduates turn to College Mom, the school’s program director, who keeps in touch via e-mail and phone calls.
“They’re just so happy to have someone rooting for them,” (Deborah Brown) said. “They’ll e-mail me, ‘I bombed the test.’ I e-mail them back. ‘Don’t worry. Let’s get to work. What do we do? Contact your professor and talk to him.’ Just the idea that someone’s rooting for them is a boost.”
Downtown College Prep, the charter school I write about in Our School, also has hired a part-time “alumni counselor” to make sure graduates, nearly all of whom are the first in their families to go to college, keep moving toward a college degree. The college persistence rate — 80 percent of DCP’s first three graduating classes remain on track to earn a degree — is more critical than the college-going rate.