#Admitted: NCAN-Member Alumni’s Guide for Students Overcoming the Odds

December 16, 2016

By Courtney Argenti, Graduate Policy Intern 

#ADMITTED is a comprehensive guide — written for students, by students — to overcoming the odds as a low-income and first-generation student. Kielah Harbert, an alumna of NCAN members Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) and College Bound St. Louis, and co-author Wilglory Tanjong, an alumna of LEDA, wrote this book to help students successfully complete high school and enroll in college. They share their personal stories of perseverance, determination, and overcoming improbability within #ADMITTED and provide resources to guide and empower students who “dare to dream.”

Published this year, the book is interactive and thought-provoking, asking readers to identify their own obstacles, and discuss how they will overcome these barriers. #ADMITTED guides readers to create an organized pathway to success, which includes defining one’s circle of peers and mentors — who will ultimately propel or impede students along their journey.

“[We are] seeing and experiencing the benefits from this book.” Harbert and Tanjong explained to NCAN. The authors, who began writing the guide in high school, have lived the advice they share. They are now students at Washington University in St. Louis and Princeton University, respectively, and are leaders within their communities.

Harbert and Tanjong set in on the book after attending a LEDA summer program. Through that, ACT preparation events, and various writing and leadership institutes, they were exposed to support and knowledge regarding college preparation and were getting ready for college, they said. “[We] realized that we wanted our peers — who may not have been able to attend [these programs] — to have that knowledge in their hands.”

The authors are also focusing on reaching family members: “A huge demographic we want to help are parents. Parents have the biggest influence over students’ lives, and they aren’t sure of where to start and how to go about [supporting students].”

#ADMITTED is divided into two sections: "The High School Guide" and "The College Application Guide." In the first section, readers learn "Kielah’s Story" and begin to plan for college through their strategic high school endeavors. The second section includes "Wilglory’s Story," and lessons for students on successfully applying to the best college that suites them. Both sections provide tips for navigating relevant situations such as talking to your parents about college, acquiring letters of recommendation, completing the college essay, applying to a community college, and paying for college. They also discuss what colleges look for in applicants. The book’s conclusion provides additional, empowering excerpts of successfully admitted college students.

The overall goal of #ADMITTED is to reach as many students as parents as possible, in order to provide support and expand the authors' vision of “college readiness and access for all.”

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) is supporting that goal. The schools have vowed to provide one book for every incoming freshman, which will be especially beneficial for students who do not receive college preparation guidance elsewhere.

Other organizations, districts, and individuals can purchase #ADMITTED, join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using #ADMITTED or #ADMITTEDguide, or host the authors at a college access event.

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