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Partnership Aimed At Enrolling More Local Students in College

Eric Smith
Charlotte Mecklenburg School System Superintendent Eric Smith said the new center will supplement the efforts of overworked high school guidance counselors.

February 16, 2001
Contact: Bill Giduz 704/894-2244 or bigiduz@davidson.edu

Davidson admission officers and representatives from other local educational institutions lifted the curtain recently on a joint venture designed to help enroll more Charlotte Mecklenburg School System students in college.

Davidson is a partner in the new ThinkCOLLEGE & Career Center, which opened February 14 in two rooms at the main branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. Funded primarily by the Communities in Schools program, the center will provide high school students with a wide range of informational services about higher education. The most unique aspect of the program is that admission counselors from Davidson, UNC Charlotte, CPCC, Queens College, and Johnson C. Smith University will be on hand regularly to provide one-on-one college counseling services.

Davidson counselors will confer with clients at the center one day per week, usually on Saturdays, helping students and their parents with questions about selecting the right college, preparing for admission, and college financing. Another frequent face will be Latosha Jenkins '96, who now works as a counselor for Communities in Schools.

Nancy Cable and Jack Tate
Nancy Cable, dean of admission and financial aid, poses with Jack Tate, former Davidson banker and founder of the ThinkCOLLEGE program.

The ThinkCOLLEGE center extends the reach of the Communities in Schools ThinkCOLLEGE program, which was founded in 1995 to provide advice, information, and encouragement toward higher education to at risk high school students. The new ThinkCOLLEGE center is open not only to at risk students, but to all students, daily during regular library hours.

While many communities offer college resource centers, ThinkCOLLEGE is one of only four centers nationwide which offers personal services from college counselors. Admission counselors from the partner colleges and universities will be on hand for personal consultation Tuesday through Thursday from 2-8 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. A full-time administrative staff person will be present at all times to guide students and parents toward a library of college catalogues and directories, application forms for every college and university in the state, and eleven computer work stations with Internet access and college planning software.

Education officials who spoke at the opening of the center said that it will provide services that overworked high school guidance counselors cannot handle. Eric Smith, superintendent of Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, noted that most schools employ just a single counselor for every 400-450 high school students.

Warren Buford '97, senior assistant dean of admissions at Davidson, said, "We're trying to lift some of the burden from these high school counselors. This will primarily help students who don't grow up destined for college, those that a high school counselor might not automatically put on a college track."

High school students wearing sweatshirts representing the higher education institutions partnering at the ThinkCOLLEGE & Career Center were present for the unveiling of the logo.

Davidson currently enrolls 96 students from the Charlotte area. Buford acknowledged that very few of the center's target students are expected to be candidates for admission here. He explained, " Our involvement is not primarily a recruiting effort, but we do hope that some of the strongest students might consider Davidson."

Buford continued, "We're mainly involved as a public service. We want to help students gain access to higher education at whatever institution they best fit. Also, our counselors will be the only ones at the center familiar with nationally prominent, small, liberal arts colleges, and will be the best equipped at the center to offer that perspective."

Ultimately, its founders hope that the ThinkCOLLEGE center will raise the college attendance rate and college graduation rate among Mecklenburg County's high school graduates. The 2000 Census recorded a 23.2 percent college completion rate for the Charlotte-Gastonia metropolitan area. A report issued by the national center for Public Policy and Higher Education revealed that only 34 percent of high school freshmen in the state go on to apply to college.

Davidson Admissions Counselors
Davidson admission counselors (l-r) Warren Buford '97, John Bell '99, and Liz Reid '99 talk with a colleague in the new ThinkCOLLEGE center.

Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,600 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine. Davidson recently launched "Let Learning Be Cherished," a $250 million campaign in support of student financial assistance, academic resources, and community life.

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