According to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, six-year graduation rates at Minnesota State Universities averaged just over 52 percent during the 2021 graduating year. This number drops even lower, to just under 36 percent, for students of color. “Our work is important because the higher education system was not made for first-generation, working-class students of color. Its oppressive roots still show up every single day in our students' lives,” says Lori, a college success coach. “We are the bridge to help students from underserved backgrounds persist to graduation.”
At College Possible Minnesota, near-peer coaches help narrow the college graduation gap for high school students throughout the state, starting in the students’ junior year in high school and following them wherever they go to college. Let’s dive into some unique benefits of AmeriCorps service at the Minnesota site, and see how College Possible Minnesota coaches spend their time in and outside of their service hours.
Enjoy an AmeriCorps service year empowering college opportunity
College Possible Minnesota offers AmeriCorps service positions supporting both high school and college students to and through college; these roles are called college access and success coaches. Running August through June, this service term averages 40 hours per week, with every Friday devoted to professional development for coaches.
As a college access coach, you work with an assigned cohort of students at various partner high schools throughout Minnesota, mainly in the Twin Cities region. Your coaching runs Monday through Thursday and may include in-person support, tech-connected support, or both. During a typical school week, you’ll manage day-to-day interactions with students while logging student engagement data into Salesforce to track student progress. Time with students is spent helping them navigate key college milestones: college selection, test prep, applications, and financial aid. “Without my coach Anna, I think I would be totally lost on how to apply for college and FAFSA,” shares Reem, a College Possible student. “My parents are not from America and would not have been able to help me with the application process here.”
If you’re selected to serve as a college success coach, you’ll support a cohort of college students to stay on track through degree completion – typically with students spanning multiple universities and colleges. In this role, you’ll help students navigate that tough first year by helping them find study groups, directing them to campus and community resources, and strengthening their time-management and budgeting skills.
“I was so glad to have found College Possible right after my college graduation,” says Ava, a college success coach. “I am able to utilize the skills I learned in college and my personal experiences to help students navigate their own college journey. From getting them connected to helpful resources to helping them decide which major they want to pursue, it feels great knowing I’m able to help students get where they need to be so they can reach their goals.”
Live in exciting Twin Cities neighborhoods
One of the best perks of serving at the College Possible Minnesota site is living in the bustling Twin Cities area. Known for its award-winning public transportation, “chain of lakes” and thriving art scene – including the infamous Cherry Spoon – in Minneapolis and St. Paul, there’s always something new to explore.
Most College Possible Minnesota coaches have found that living with one or more roommates is the most affordable housing option in the Twin Cities, while others have found studios or one-bedroom apartments in the Marcy-Holmes, Hamlin-Midway, or Uptown Minneapolis neighborhoods. If you’re looking to relocate to the Twin Cities for your service year, you’ll receive a $500 relocation reimbursement to offset the cost. Funds can be used for a variety of expenses, including hotel fees while you search for your new apartment in the area, a lease deposit, or a moving truck, just to name a few.
Getting around the Twin Cities to your assigned schools is a breeze with public transportation. Metro Transit, the city’s public light rail, has a Green Line stop just twelve minutes’ walking distance from the College Possible Minnesota office. Bike and scooter sharing is also available 24/7 through Nice Ride Minnesota. Coaches who prefer to drive to the office enjoy free parking in the covered office garage.
Explore Minnesota with your fellow college coaches
An AmeriCorps service year with College Possible is one of the best ways to gain invaluable professional skills to jumpstart your career. It’s also a transformative time to build lifelong friendships with your cohort of college coaches. “My best advice for the next generation of AmeriCorps coaches is to be ready to work hard,” says Madeleine, a college coach. “Most importantly, have fun with the students you’re serving and with your fellow AmeriCorps members. This is an incredible time to meet new people and gain invaluable experiences. Enjoy every moment!”
When they’re not working with students, College Possible Minnesota coaches can be found enjoying all that the city and its scenery have to offer. Minnehaha Falls, a common coach hangout, is located within one of Minneapolis’s oldest and most popular parks. The 53-foot waterfall is surrounded by limestone bluffs, a volleyball court, a disc golf course, and a wading pool. Just six miles north of the park is another coach favorite, the Stone Arch Bridge, located on the Minneapolis Riverwalk. This National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark features both a bike and walking path and is a selfie-spot favorite for catching pictures of the city skyline.
The Minneapolis Institute of Art is another frequent destination for Minnesota coaches. Home to over 80,000 pieces on exhibit, the museum offers free general admission Tuesday through Sunday.
A service year at College Possible Minnesota offers a unique way to empower college opportunity throughout the state, and it’s an excellent launching pad for those deciding between disciplines for master’s degree programs, or for those seeking tangible experience before entering into the nonprofit or education work field. If gaining invaluable professional skills and making a proven impact in your community sounds like a year well spent, please join us at one of our upcoming information sessions to learn more.