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Student-Run Program Assists Local High School Students in College Admissions Process

On Friday, April 8, more than 70 high school students from public high schools in Washington Heights and throughout New York City gathered on Yeshiva University’s uptown Wilf Campus to attend a college preparation day organized by the YU student-run College EDge program. High school students had the opportunity to hear about the different higher education options available and attend workshops on navigating the college admissions process.

Jonah Rubin ’12YC, came up with the idea for College EDge last December while tutoring students at neighboring George Washington High School through the Yeshiva University President’s Circle Literacy Program. “We realized that these students wanted to go to college but had very little knowledge on how to achieve that goal.” When he mentioned these concerns to Mrs. Lolita Wood-Hill, the pre-med advisor at Yeshiva College, she encouraged him to think of a way to “fix the issue.”

With Wood-Hill’s guidance over the next few months, Rubin developed a program that would help underrepresented students understand the college admissions process. What originally started out as an idea to offer admissions seminars ultimately transformed into a more dynamic program called College EDge, which would provide information about college life, as well as strategies for admissions and finance for college-bound students. As Rubin explained, “many of these students plan to attend college but lack crucial knowledge of its organizational structure and demands. We hope for College EDge to take the first step towards rectifying this situation.”

Invitations were sent out to different public schools across the five boroughs to send their students to Yeshiva University for a college planning day. Marsha Milan-Bethel, who works at George Washington High School and knew Rubin from his involvement in the tutoring program, readily accepted the invitation and played an integral role in reaching out to her colleagues at other schools to attend.

On the morning of the event, 18 student volunteers from Stern College for Women and Yeshiva College gathered to welcome the students and give them brief tours of the Yeshiva University campus. Gabriel Cwilich, director of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program and Barry Eichler, dean of Yeshiva College, also spoke to the high school students. Wood-Hill moderated a panel discussion with representatives from Columbia University, CUNY, Fordham University, Hostos Community College and SUNY about the different options for college education.

Students heard about the different processes for admissions, as well as the variety of opportunities to take advantage of when in college, including sports activities, and student and cultural clubs. Students were then led on campus tours, seeing firsthand how a college laboratory is run, as well as other aspects of college life, such as the gym and library.

After a quick pizza lunch where the students had the chance to talk in a relaxed, informal setting with YU volunteers, seminars were held in SAT prep and financial aid opportunities, as well as a workshop session on writing a personal statement, given by members of the Wilf Campus Writing Center. The program concluded with a college fair comprised of some 25 colleges and trade schools.

Looking towards the future, Rubin hopes to make College EDge more than an annual event. “We are extremely gratified by the turnout of both colleges and high school students in this, our rookie year, and we are moving forward with plans to further improve and expand College EDge. This will hopefully generate even more YU student involvement, attract more schools to attend, develop the organization and ensure its continuity.”