At Chicago Jesuit Academy, our relationship with our students does not conclude when we graduate our alumni to their respective college prep high schools. Instead, we remain a trusted advocate as they transition from our college prep middle school to college prep high schools, then on to professional pathways or college and, ultimately, to meaningful careers.
This strategy flows from our belief that the first and often greatest obstacle to a college degree for students of modest means is a lack of “social capital” to support college readiness. The path to college can be a perilous journey for even the most well resourced families. If almost no one you know has been through college, it’s all the harder to be aware of the benchmarks you need to hit to stay on pace for college. Small hurdles can become insurmountable obstacles when no one knows how to direct you through a FAFSA, ACT/SAT prep or the related jungle of college acronyms.
We therefore strive to give our students the same social capital that a middle class family with college-educated parents would have. To accomplish this goal, we have built a structured set of programs to help students prepare for the high school search and selection process and access and persist in best-fit high schools, affordable post-secondary education and professional pathways.
These programs begin in earnest in 6th grade with a weekly class to help our students understand the complexity of the high school landscape and the options that might be available to them. In 8th grade, our students and their families are assigned a dedicated College-Persistence Counselor to help counsel each family through the application process for schools and scholarship organizations that will best serve them.
Once our students graduate from 8th grade and enter high school, the College-Persistence Team offers programming support through in-person visits, Bridge Workshops, summer jobs, ACT prep and college counseling. Once our alumni enter college or professional pathways, we remain a strong advocate for them as they chart their paths toward meaningful employment. Most importantly, our alumni and their families know that we will continue to walk with them through any challenges or crises that they may face.
Our commitment is simple: As long as our students and alumni are prepared to take one step toward us, then we are prepared to take two steps toward them.