College Access: Research & Action (CARA), the organization featured in Personal Statement that trained Karoline, Christine and Enoch alongside many other students, is a leader in the field of peer-to-peer college access and persistence programming. CARA has developed a comprehensive model that schools, community-based organizations and colleges can use to expand advisement capacity and better address the needs of first-generation college students, low income students and students of color.
CARA's mission is to ensure that these students have the knowledge and support necessary to enroll in and persist through college. While high school students need opportunities to learn about college and career pathways, most urban public high schools and institutions of higher education are not structured to provide this assistance. CARA’s programs, research, and policy work address these inequities. They work with high schools, community-based organizations, and higher education institutions to craft a tailored mix of programs to meet their students’ needs.
Peer Leaders are carefully selected and rigorously trained high school and college students who work within their own schools and communities. They work along various points in the post-secondary access and persistence process, providing one-on-one counseling and group support to help their peers matriculate into and persist through higher education. CARA’s Peer-to-Peer model offers: 70+ hours of peer training; professional development to Peer Leader supervisors; and model development support to leadership.
CARA ensures Peer Leaders have:
● 70-80 hours of training
● a clearly defined role within their schools
● financial compensation for their work
● time in the daily schedule when they can work consistently with students
● strong adult supervision
● data tools to allow them to track and evaluate their work
● a community of peers with whom to share best practices and resources
Resources from CARA:
You can learn more about the Right to College program, which trains high school students here, the College Bridge program, which trains college students to work in their alma-maters here, and the College Allies program, which trains college students to work on their college campuses here.
CARA has also made the following lesson plans for workshops available. These lesson plans can be used to train peer leaders and/or to work directly with students:
● College Application Steps: In Personal Statement, the students in the film participate in this workshop during a Youth Leader training. It provides an overview of the various steps of the college process and introduces a range of college vocabulary to students.
● First Generation to College: This session is designed to help students understand aspects of the first-generation college student experience. It is an opportunity for them to reflect on their personal circumstances as they draw connections to how they can support their peers.
Organizations, schools and districts interested in developing peer-to-peer college access or persistence programming should contact CARA at firstname.lastname@example.org.