College Process

AF Brookyln High School student dances after receiving his diplomaBy his senior year, Achievement First Brooklyn High School student Lakenzwa knew he wanted to select a college where he could pursue his passion: mechanical engineering. He initially considered 15 colleges and then narrowed his list down to two final choices.

He spent a weekend at Lafayette College where he took an up-close look at the mechanical engineering program, met with professors and realized that Lafayette was the right school for him.

As he reflected on his senior year, Lakenzwa said: “My college counselor helped me understand the college process and led sessions where students and parents talked about the college experience. Choosing a college could have been intimidating, but instead it was fun. I felt empowered to make the right decision for me.”

“The college process gave me a starting point. It helped me consider more than just grades and programs but also experiences,” he said. “My teachers shared their reasons for attending the colleges they chose, and it helped me feel more confident about applying early decision. I was able to explore many different college options and choose a college that I could actually see myself attending.”

Our college process builds off the solid foundation of understanding tied to academic performance, financial need and self-advocacy students learn through their required College Readiness Seminar. For seniors, this process serves as a guide by giving students and their families the tools and support to select colleges that best fit their goals and needs. Counselors help students like Lakenzwa through every step of their college decision-making process: from college list creation to financial aid research to matriculation decisions. By the time they leave their senior-level College Readiness Seminar, students have a complete binder of tools they will need to navigate college—including a map highlighting on-campus resources and a checklist of time-management strategies and helpful hints.

At AF, guidance through the college process is in-depth and deliberate; we understand that students who select colleges that best fit their needs are more likely to succeed and persist toward graduation. That’s why we provide the highest degree of individualized attention, meeting with students and their families to ensure they are well-informed about each college of interest and supporting students in putting forth the strongest possible applications. In addition to considering key information about the school’s setting, financial fit and academic rigor, we want to make sure students are matriculating to the school on their list that has the greatest track record of supporting AF alumni.

We only recommend schools that offer significant financial aid and provide robust support for first-generation, low-income students. We suggest schools with high graduation rates for students of color and strong retention rates for underclassmen.

Latina girl holding Lafayette shirtIn helping students and their families create best-fit lists, we carefully consider GPA, SAT scores and character record. A student’s preference survey is used to determine whether the school makes a good social fit, weighing factors including distance from home and the size of the campus. The result takes the guesswork out of college list creation. Once the list is developed, we walk students and families through the complex application process.

“We work closely with students and families to ensure the timely submission of high-quality, complete college and financial aid applications,” said Emery Sykes, AF Amistad High’s founding dean of college.

For AF Amistad High student Aminah, the college process was invaluable in her decision making.

“I would never have decided on Susquehanna University if Ms. Sykes didn’t strongly encourage me to go to the overnight program,” she said. “Visiting the school was the deciding factor. Without the overnight program, I would never have known that Susquehanna was the school for me.”