According to Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, state system universities reported four-year college graduation rates under 53 percent during the 2022 graduating year. This number drops even lower, to 43 percent, for Pell-recipient students. At College Possible Philadelphia, near-peer coaches help narrow the college graduation gap for high school students throughout the city, starting in the students’ junior year in high school and following them wherever they go to college.
“To have a College Possible coach is the best feeling,” says Aldrin, a College Possible student. “Not only does it help you academically, it helps you emotionally, knowing there is someone always looking out for you.” Let’s dive into some unique benefits of AmeriCorps service at the Philadelphia site, and see how College Possible Philadelphia coaches spend their time in and outside of their service hours.
Enjoy an AmeriCorps service year empowering college opportunity
College Possible Philadelphia 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 Philadelphia. 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 preparatory milestones: college selection, test prep, applications, and financial aid. “There was one student at George Washington High School who I spoke with for quite some time. As she opened up to me, we discovered that we had similar family backgrounds and were both the first in our families with a desire to attend college,” shares Jenee, a college access coach. “When I mentioned that I am a former College Possible student, it seemed as though something clicked for her. It was as if everything that she thought she knew about this opportunity was solidified — students like her can go to and graduate from college!”
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.
“Because I was overwhelmed by balancing many rigorous courses, extracurricular activities, the college process and home life, my coach helped me take a breather,” says Davy-Anna, a College Possible student. “She gave me time to express how I felt through the year and supported me on the sidelines.”
Live in exciting and affordable Philadelphia neighborhoods
One of the best perks of serving at the College Possible Philadelphia site is living in the historic, lively city. Known for landmarks like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, the famous Love Park, and its rich food and music culture, there’s always something to explore in Philly.
Most College Possible Philadelphia coaches have found that living with one or more roommates is the most affordable housing option in the city, while others have found studios or one-bedroom apartments in the West Philadelphia or University City neighborhoods. If you’re looking to relocate to Philly 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 city to your assigned schools is a breeze with public transportation. The College Possible Philadelphia office is located just six blocks from the Broad Street train line via the SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority), or opt for the bus and get dropped off at the office corner. Bike sharing is also available 24/7 through Indego with affordable fees and monthly passes.
Explore Philadelphia 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 Philadelphia coaches can be found enjoying all that the city has to offer. Manayunk, a National Historic District located just 15 minutes from the center of Philly, is a favorite coach destination for shopping and dining. Home to annual arts and food festivals, this commercial district is lined with Victorian-style storefronts for endless exploration. Just eight miles south of the historic district is another coach favorite, Dilworth Park. Equipped with an outdoor roller rink open four months of the year, a fountain installation that converts into an ice skating rink in the winter, and lined with dining options, this centerpiece of Philly draws crowds of all ages.
If greenery is what you’re looking for, Sister Cities Park is your next stop. Coaches frequent this Philly destination to grab a bite to eat and enjoy a panoramic view of the city’s skyscrapers. Bring your picnic blanket, because there’s plenty of open space to spread out with your crew.
A service year at College Possible Philadelphia offers a unique way to empower college opportunity throughout the city, 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 or browse our open positions.