Vermont AHEC will not be holding CollegeQuest in the summer of 2016 because we have not yet identified a sustainable source of funding for the program.
Northeastern Vermont AHEC is taking the time this year to analyze and organize 4-years of data on program outcomes into presentations and reports to reach partners and potential funders. The evaluation findings are compelling; CollegeQuest has made measurable impacts on students’ knowledge, confidence, and behavior as it relates to college and career success. CollegeQuest completers are demonstrating rates of college enrollment and persistence much higher than expected.
A full report of evaluation findings will be available early in 2016. Would you be interested in receiving a copy? Can you think of anyone else who would be interested in our findings? Could you help us reach out to that person or organization? Contact Nicole LaPointe, Executive Director, by phone at (877) 215-3921 or click this link to email.
CollegeQuest to Health Careers is an academic enrichment and college preparation program designed to prepare disadvantaged Vermont high school students for college admission and degree completion in a health-related field of study. The five-week residential program was started in 2012. In 2015, CollegeQuest was held at Vermont Technical College (VTC) in Randolph, Vermont. CollegeQuest is part of the health care workforce development pipeline of the Vermont Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Network. The program was developed from research-based assumptions that students raised and educated in rural and underserved communities are likely to practice in similar communities, and that educationally and economically disadvantaged students face additional barriers to post-secondary achievement. The program involves a structured curriculum, a trained team of undergraduate Assistant Directors who function as resident-assistance staff, and a rich interaction with health professionals and educators who make up the faculty.
CollegeQuest provides approximately 150 hours of total instruction in Human Biology, Planning for College, and Health Careers Exploration. Students plan college and career pathways advised by Outreach Counselors from the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) and the Vermont AHEC Network. Students visit college campuses and health care workplaces as part of their exploration. The students engage in classroom and laboratory study of human biology and gain 3.0 college credits in biology from VTC. CollegeQuest structures academic and resident life to impart fundamental concepts related to social and emotional learning, which are key factors for young adult college and career success (Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Framework, June, 2015, University of Chicago and the Consortium on Chicago School Research). Self-awareness, stress-management, self-care, social awareness, understanding of cultural diversity, constructive community living and effective team function are taught and reinforced throughout the program.
Students participate in the CollegeQuest program the summer before their senior year. Vermont residents attending high school in Vermont may apply. Eligible students are either educationally or economically disadvantaged. Students must have taken high school biology, have an interest in health careers, and provide two letters of recommendation.
By CollegeQuest’s program definition, a student is considered educationally disadvantaged if neither parent has a 4-year college degree. Educationally disadvantaged students face unique social and cultural barriers to college persistence and degree completion. In 2012, 50% of Vermont high school graduates were educationally disadvantaged, and only half of them enrolled in college the fall following their graduation, compared to 72% of their non-educationally-disadvantaged peers (Special Report, Gaps in Postsecondary Education Aspiration, April, 2014. Vermont Student Assistance Corporation).
Eligibility for the free and reduced price meals program is used as a proxy for economic disadvantage, which equates to living at or below 185% of the federal poverty level. According to the Vermont Agency of Education, these students graduate high school at a lower rate and perform less well on standardized tests than their peers (Vermont Public School Dropout and High School Completion Report, 2014 and NECAP Assessment Report, Academic Year 2012-2013). In 2014, 42.5% of students statewide qualified for free and reduced price meals (2015 Free & Reduced Eligibility Report, Vermont Agency of Education.
Some CollegeQuest Statistics
Since 2012, ninety-four students have completed the CollegeQuest program. 97% (n=91) have been educationally disadvantaged and 71% (n=67) economically disadvantaged. 23% (n=22) of CollegeQuest students identify as non-white and 17% (n=16) are new Americans. Of the 2012 and 2013 student body,96% were registered for college in the fall after their senior year. Of students from the first CollegeQuest class, 91% (22 of 24) remain enrolled in their second year of college. These achievements are remarkable for this population, and we expect similar outcomes in future years.