By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – Getting into a good college has never been tougher. It can be particularly challenging for first generation college students whose parents might not be familiar with the application process.

The College Advising Corp is making dreams of higher education come true for kids who didn’t know they could aim that high.

Madeleine Valdez, a senior at Brighton High School, is getting one-on-one counseling as she prepares to apply to college this fall. She is hoping to become a doctor one day.

“I think it is overwhelming, but I think I will get through,” said Valdez after meeting with a counselor.

Katie Magyar, who directs the Boston division of the College Advising Corp, explained the mission of the program. “We partner with high needs school districts and higher education to insure that more first generation, low income, under represented students get into college, and succeed while they are there until graduation.”

The program is modeled after the Peace Corp and America Corp. New college graduates are given a stipend and commit to a year working in a high school as a counselor. The idea is to supplement guidance counselors who are often overwhelmed by demands other than college.

“Counselors are dealing with a range of things, from registration to social, emotional support. College access is just one piece on their plate. On top of which, first generation college students . . . have a knowledge gap,” said Magyar.

The College Advising Corp is a free service for the high school students. Last year it was in just one Boston high school. This year the program will expand to 15 schools in Boston and one in Lynn.

The Corp says research shows their students are 23% more likely to apply to college than a similar student who didn’t go their assistance.

Magyar says advisors focus on making sure the students apply to the right school, including two year institutions. They don’t want a student to go to the wrong school and incur a lot of debt without ever getting a degree.

Lucy Lantos is one of the advisors. She decided to stay for a second year.

“The reward is just huge when you see a student get into college, who maybe college wasn’t even on their mind at the beginning of the year. Now they are going, and they are the first in their family to go, that is just so rewarding,” said Lantos.


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