Peers Make College A Reality For Low-Income Students

Ann McClure's picture

Marqualo McDaniels isn’t just busy with his own college search — he’s helping his classmates with theirs as well. A senior at Clyde C. Miller Career Academy in St. Louis, he serves as a peer leader in the College Summit program, which works to make higher education possible for low-income students across the nation.

Each year, College Summit assembles a group of incoming high school seniors — such as McDaniels — for mentor training.

“If you’ve ever seen a bunch of kids trying their hearts out…,” 17-year-old McDaniels said, trailing off. “I can’t put it into words. I don’t think it was so much of a session as it was a movement. We created a family. We took away so much more than the college process.”

The results are tangible. In 2004, the college enrollment rate for St. Louis public schools was 34%. That was before College Summit began working in 14 area buildings, including McDaniels’. In 2011, that rate had risen to nearly 69%.

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