According to the Texas Higher Education Accountability System, six-year graduation rates at Texas public universities averaged at 66.4% during the 2021 graduating year. At College Forward, the Texas arm of College Possible, near-peer coaches help narrow the widening college graduation gap for more than 400 high school and 4,980 college students each year.
“I knew I wanted to pay it forward and serve students when I was a laboratory assistant and noticed many first-generation college students were struggling to adapt to their new environment,” says Ivette, college success coach. “As a fellow first-gen college student, I could relate to the experiences they were going through and wanted to use my own experiences to aid future students like myself.”
Let’s dive into some unique benefits of AmeriCorps service at the Texas site, and how College Forward coaches spend their time.
Enjoy a unique, part-time AmeriCorps service opportunity
The College Forward site is one of the only College Possible locations that offers a three-quarter position for college access and success coaches. Running August through June, this service term averages 32 hours per week, leaving AmeriCorps coaches time to pick up another part-time job, or attend graduate school, if they choose.
“I was doing freelance art and working at a coffee shop when I learned about AmeriCorps,” says Sydney, college success coach. “I wanted to know more about the nonprofit world before I made a decision about which graduate school program to apply for. College Forward resonated with me because of its mission to serve first-generation college students.”
As a college access coach, you work with an assigned cohort of students at various partner high schools in central Texas. 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, financial aid and college selection.
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.
A part-time coaching schedule allows AmeriCorps members flexibility to work an additional part-time job, take a few college courses, manage family obligations, or just enjoy their service time with fellow coaches.
Live in exciting and affordable Austin neighborhoods
One of the best perks of serving at the College Forward site is living in the bustling city of Austin, Texas. Well-known for its beautiful riverwalk and expansive food truck scene, Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country – the perfect place for young professionals to spend a year of service.
Many College Forward coaches have found affordable one-bedroom apartments in the East Riverside, North and South Lamar, and Mueller neighborhoods. If you’re looking to move closer to Austin for your service year, you’ll receive a $500 relocation reimbursement to offset the cost.
Getting around Austin and central Texas to your partner schools is a breeze with public transportation. Capital Metro, the city’s public transit, provides a network of bus routes. Bike share is also available 24/7 using Austin B-cycle, a public bike share program with stations throughout the city. Along with AmeriCorps’ standard benefits and compensation like free health insurance, an education award, student loan forbearance, and a living allowance, you’ll also receive mileage reimbursement if you choose to use your car during your service year.
Explore Texas 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 life-long 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, College Forward 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 Forward coaches can be found hanging out at a variety of places, enjoying the Austin weather and taking in all the city has to offer. Zilker Park, a common coach hang out, boasts five volleyball courts, a disc golf course, a hillside theater where summer concerts are held, and so much more. Barton Springs, a natural water reserve located within Zilker Park, occupies three acres of the land. A favorite swimming destination of Austin residents, Barton Springs water averages temperatures of 68-70 degrees year round.
The Texas State Capitol is another favorite destination for College Forward coaches. Home to regular concerts, festivals, exhibits and free tours, the capitol has something for everyone to enjoy.
A service year at College Forward in Austin offers a special opportunity to empower education equity in the state of Texas and special benefits offered at the Austin service site. This is an excellent launching pad for those deciding between disciplines for master’s degree programs, or for those looking for tangible experience before entering into the nonprofit or education work field. If gaining invaluable professional skills and making proven impact in your community sounds like a year well-spent, please join us at one of our upcoming information sessions to learn more.