Adjusting to college life is never easy. But for a group of Cape Henlopen graduates, the transition from high school to college has been smoother than most.
Cape Henlopen High School's Advancement Via Individual Determination program was created to help students prepare for college who might not otherwise attend.
Since then, more than a dozen students have gone on to college and are on their way to earning degrees, said Robin Savage, AVID coordinator.
“Our goal is to get them to college and help them prepare so they succeed when they get there,” Savage said.
Students with at least a 2.5 grade point average and high test scores qualify for the program. Participants must also be first generation to attend college or be at-risk of not attending college because of lack of support. Originally, it served high school students in grades 9 to 12. It has since been expanded to the middle schools and students can join in sixth-grade.
“Now when I get the students, they already know about the program and have been involved for a few years,” Savage said.
Students participate in a regular school schedule, and they are encouraged to take rigorous classes that will prepare them for college. They meet with Savage and other AVID students once a day to work on organization and study habits. They also work on college applications.
The organization skills Aaliyah Reese learned during her years with Cape's AVID program have helped her immensely as a freshman at Campbell University.
“I was more mentally prepared for college than other freshman because of AVID,” Reese said. “I had the mindset already that I needed to be organized and prepared for college life.”
Reese said she is pursuing an international business degree and is on a five-year plan that includes graduate classes.
Carissa Stevens, a freshman at Virginia Wesleyan in Norfolk, said “If it wasn't for AVID, I think I would be in college, but I wouldn't be where I am today.”
Stevens said her parents did not go to college; AVID helped her through the college application process.
“I had the support to keep me on track,” she said.
Stevens said she is not sure what she will do with her business major, but she is confident she will figure something out by the time she graduates.
Savage said she recently visited the girls at their campuses. She couldn't be prouder.
“This was part of my promise to them – that if they get into a college, I will come and visit them,” she said.
In addition to teaching organization, Savage said she teaches students about budgeting.
“I found out a lot of our students are going to college but are going into debt,” she said. “It's not just from tuition costs. It's also from credit card bills.”
Teaching students about hidden costs associated with college life are just as important as helping them get into college, she said.
AVID teaches them to budget for food and car payments as well as tuition.
“The purpose is to get them to realize how much it costs to live,” Savage said. “It's part of growing up and knowing how much support they have.”