College Success

  • 89% of our high school students graduate within 4 years.
  • 99% of our 2017 graduates were accepted to college.
  • Our recent grads have been accepted to Cornell, Princeton, MIT, Barnard, Bard, NYU, Amherst, Mt. Holyoke, Skidmore, Franklin & Marshall, Vanderbilt, Howard & More


Our To & Through College program supports students and alumni from our Network High Schools in navigating their way to a “best fit” college; provides our graduates with the support they need to matriculate in college after being accepted; and keeps in touch with our alumni to ensure that they have the tools and supports they need to get through college.

More specifically, our program supports our Network Schools in:

  1. Building college-going cultures which expose students to college early and help them see college as an attainable and desirable goal. Examples of structures which support this include our annual College March, during which college seniors from across our network schools march their college applications to their local post office or mail truck as members of their respective school communities, family members, local business leaders, elected officials, and other supporters cheer them on. Working with our partners Capital One Bank and Heart of America to establish College Access Rooms at three of our high schools that provide a highly visible college hub for advisement and application support. And having our students attend college trips as early as ninth grade, with the goal of visiting approximately 20 institutions before they graduate. Visits range from a simple tour of a campus to classroom visits paired with overnight stays in campus dormitories. 
  2. Getting our students to the right college that is a good match for them and enables them to meet their full potential. Working with our College Counselors, we have started to develop a consortium of colleges well-suited for our students—schools which embrace active, inquiry-based teaching practices that share similarities with our educational approach, and schools that have a strong record of graduating a high percentage of low-income, first-generation college students on time and without significant debt. We also support students applying to CUNY schools in gaining access to effective opportunity programs such as SEEK, College Discovery, and ASAP, which support students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who could benefit from additional academic support. 
  3. Making sure our students don’t succumb to “summer melt”. We have partnered with College Access: Research and Action (CARA) to help ensure that our college-accepted seniors matriculate in the fall. Through this partnership, our seniors receive support from our coaches, who are college-enrolled alumni from their own Network School. We also hold an annual College Meetup Day for college-bound seniors so that they can meet other students from our Network Schools headed to the same or a similar college.
  4. Giving our alumni the supports they need to get through college. Supported by recent research around the value of “nudges” through text messaging for first-generation students, an important part of our program is a social media support system for our students using text messaging. The “nudges” range from reminding students of upcoming financial aid deadlines to encouraging them to take advantage of a college's academic supports like a college’s writing center. Our text-messaging platform allows us to segment our alumni so that our messages can be appropriately and effectively targeted based on the college each student is attending, and can surface students who need individual support. We also have a college-level advisory program called College Crew, which is informed by the Crew structure we use in our network schools; College Crew supports graduates who are attending one of four CUNY community colleges, but who were not accepted to one of the CUNY opportunity programs. 

"When I think of NYC Outward Bound, I think of a woven rope consisting of multiple colors and knots that create a thicker, more durable rope that's strong enough to support struggling students climbing upward toward success. If one of the smaller strings breaks, there are dozens of others to keep the rope steady and strong. The strings of the rope are all of us."
-Maxim Belioglo, Class of 2016
Posse Scholar to Franklin & Marshall 

Recent News

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    Goodwill at WHEELS for EL's Better World Day May 8, 2018

    WHEELS seniors recently took part in a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project, in which they learned lessons on social issues and philanthropy, and then paid it forward by awarding $2,500 in grant money to a local community-based organization (CBO).

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    MAELS students place kindness rocks at South Beach Boardwalk May 8, 2018

    Sixth-graders from Marsh Avenue Expeditionary Learning School, New Springville, recently spread kindness at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk in South Beach.

    As a part of EL Education's Better World Day, MAELS students painted rocks with inspirational messages from "The Kindness Rocks Project" with the purpose of cultivating connections within the community and lifting others up through simple acts of kindness.

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    How Is Change Achieved When Protest Ends? Leaders High School Sends Teens Citywide Seeking Answers May 7, 2018

    Leaders High School sent a teen team to delve into modern community organizing during their week-long field course “Intensive.” Read about what they learned in this thought-provoking article.


Read the Study: Texts "Nudge" Students To and Through College

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Our College March

Learn more about a powerful ritual that helps establish college-going cultures in our schools.