College Track: Helping Students Succeed

Encouraging high school students to not only enroll in college, but to also thrive in college was on Councilwoman Cantrell’s agenda at a recent full City Council meeting. LaToya invited College Track, a national organization with a New Orleans office that focuses on increasing the number of students who complete college, to report to the Council.

Locally, the organization provides services to more than 370 high school and college students and is now New Orleans largest college access and completion program. Education advocate Dr. Andre Perry serves as the group’s board chair, and pointed out how College Track assists low-income students in getting into college, but, more importantly, gives them the necessary tools to succeed. Perry added how critical the need has become.

“College is basic now,” Perry said. “It’s the 13th and 14th grades and beyond.”

College Track’s director of development and partnerships, James Dabney, Ph.D, told the Council about the organization’s tremendous success rates since opening an office in New Orleans, which include,
• More than twice the national average graduation rate for low-income students
• 85 percent of the College Track’s 2015 class was TOPS opportunity eligible, compared to 38 percent overall for New Orleans students, and
• 96 percent of College Track high school students are accepted into college.

It’s great to hear from administrators and board members, but it’s even better to hear from the students. Alonzo Booth III, an International High School of New Orleans graduate and currently enrolled at Franklin and Marshall College, passionately explained how College Track prepared him for academic success.

“This is an organization that allowed me to grow in character throughout high school and then continuing on to college,” Booth said. He added how College Track requires its students to perform a minimum of 100 hours of community service and that this blossomed into Booth going to Africa last year as a student volunteer.

LaToya came away impressed, noting that College Track has room for more students.

“When I see you still have space available for more kids, it tells me that we need to fill that space,” LaToya said.