|"College is better than no college, period. You'll thank me later!"|
All too often, high school guidance counselors are criticized for a legion of faults: lack of college knowledge, lack of concern for students who aren't academic superstars, general absence of motivation... the list could go on and on. Kathy Morgan is one guidance counselor who won't be confused with the lackluster performers vilified by so many parents. In 1999, Kathy helped 100% of the senior class of All Hallows High School in the Bronx gain entry to college. This school was far from a magnet school packed with elite students - in fact, many of the students might have been termed "not college material" at other schools, with an average SAT score of 870. Ms. Morgan's accomplishment attracted the attention of the national press, and coverage included a feature story in the Wall Street Journal.
College Confidential tracked down Kathy Morgan, and asked her to reflect on that memorable year at All Hallows as well as other college admissions issues. She's no longer at All Hallows, but is now director of the CollegeBound program sponsored by The Young Women's Leadership Foundation. TYWLF operates The Young Women's Leadership School in Harlem, where CollegeBound originated. The program is now providing college counseling assistance at four additional high schools in Brooklyn and the Bronx.
Kathy Morgan: When I reflect on my experience at All Hallows I really can't say that I have a new perspective. I believed then, as I do now, that the kids from inner cities have much of what it takes to attend and complete a college education. They have to be given a tremendous amount of support from the people who are working with them. I think if they feel people are supporting them and advocating for them, they gradually start believing in themselves.
Morgan: Periodically I meet with students who I worked with at All Hallows on college campuses. They have all made adjustments to college life and are doing well. Many have graduated and are currently working in the business world. There have been a few who chose to leave college and pursue other interests.
Morgan: School administrators were generally supportive of my efforts to get all the seniors into college. However, at times I think some people doubted that some of the students would be successful at a few of the institutions those students chose to attend. Many of the students went to colleges that had strong support networks on the campus. This made a very big difference to those students.
Morgan: I think the college option has to be explored with all students. I think many students are eliminated from the possibility of going to college because no one takes the time to look at the available options. Unfortunately, many students are dismissed as "not college material" and are told to get a job or join the military. I think all too often, many students get short-changed.
Morgan: Unfortunately there are really not many parents that I deal with who play a role in the college admissions process. I think they may feel intimidated by the process. For many of them, it is the first time they have discussed college.
Morgan: My current job is much more administrative. I oversee college counselors at five schools. They are all relatively small public high schools in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Manhattan. The name of the Foundation I work for is the Young Womens Leadership Foundation. The Foundation was founded by Ann Rubenstein Tisch. The first school to be a part of the Foundation is the Young Women's Leadership School. CollegeBound is one of the programs sponsored by the foundation. It is both a challenging and rewarding position!
College Confidential extends its thanks to Kathy Morgan for participating in this interview, and congratulates her on her service to deserving high school students and families! Here are a few additional resources:
1999 Wall Street Journal article, "With a 100% Acceptance Rate, A Brazen Counselor Tries for a Repeat Performance" (pdf format)
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