Scholars Program

In pursuit of our goal of expanding the numbers of underserved students earning a college degree, Pathways to College has developed a remarkably successful strategy that links college preparation and access with school improvement. We:

  • Identify program participants (called Pathways to College Scholars);
  • Develop their interest in academic success and college admission;
  • Mentor and coach them to become school leaders whose goal is to make their schools the very best they can be;
  • Build on their leadership and interest to inspire and encourage academic success school-wide;
  • Emphasize “bottom-up change” that encourages students to be important partners in school reform efforts by utilizing their academic successes to motivate others.
We work after school hours throughout the high school years with selected students, primarily students of color, in whom we see high academic potential.   We refer to them as Pathways to College Scholars.  We create safe places for students to be smart where teams of teachers and learners are free to focus on academic success, career exploration, college access and leadership.  Our Scholars develop and practice their leadership skills by intentionally working to influence the rest of the school to recognize that college completion is an achievable goal, and to encourage positive school change.  Our goal is to establish enduring program sites in challenged high schools.

Our target population is ninth through twelfth graders in schools where academic interest is minimal to moderate and only limited exposure and access to selective colleges is provided.  Depending on the size of the school, a learning team of up to 100 Pathways to College Scholars is selected by application and teacher recommendation.  Applicant potential is identified by evaluating several carefully developed criteria.  Standardized test scores may be collected for college application purposes but never serve as a criterion for selection. The program is not remedial.  Students develop the tools they need to reflect, articulate and build on their life experiences and strengthen their critical thinking and writing skills; both skills, research indicates, are key to academic success.

Scheduled to meet during the school year twice or more weekly for a minimum of four hours, Pathways to College exposes students and their families to valuable resources and information.  Within a supportive, expectant and confident atmosphere, it provides the tools and guidance necessary for students and families to make informed choices and effective plans for higher education and for personal and career development.  Students are given direct instruction in the communications and study skills necessary for academic success.  Our curriculum focuses on the reality that the students must learn a new language and culture – not “better” than the one they know, but one that is needed to optimize their potential for success in college and in their desired careers.

Pathways Scholars attend an orientation meeting with their parents and/or guardians; a series of informational sessions for families is also provided during the school year.  Pathways Scholars participate in a range of out-of-school meetings, events and trips, some of which are available to other students to encourage school-wide academic interest; 11th grade Scholars go on a college tour of several days’ duration.

From a pool initially identified by students, we hire up to four of the most effective teachers in each participating school. These teachers provide coaching support, targeting the critical life skills and intellectual habits of mind that research tells us are essential to prepare for and succeed, academically and personally in college and beyond.

Pathways to College is a vehicle critically needed by institutions of higher learning to expand the pipeline of under-served minority students identified and adequately prepared for college recruitment, attendance and completion.

Associate Scholars Program

Pathways provides a distance-learning opportunity for students in high schools where the Scholars Program is currently unavailable. The Associate Scholars Program offers information and support to selected students who are beginning the process of exploring career opportunities and applying to college. Motivated students interested in doing well in high school and going on to obtain an education at a competitive college may apply to become Pathways to College Associate Scholars.  Accepted applicants are placed in contact with our Partner Colleges, who may send information on their undergraduate and pre-college programs.  Also, from time to time we send newsletters and other useful information and materials on preparing for college. Presently, Associate Scholars reside in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

Students interested in becoming Associate Scholars can complete the application (click the link below) and mail it to the address below.

All applicants will receive Pathways to College: An Explorer’s Guide, a comprehensive guidebook that explains in clear language the steps students and families need to take, well in advance of senior year, to select appropriate high school classes, to identify “personal best” college choices, complete the application process, and to find financial aid. The guidebook, which includes a message from Oprah Winfrey, will be forwarded soon after each application is received.

Applications should be mailed to:

Programs Office
P.O. Box 2105
Middletown, NY 10940

Associate Scholar Application PDF