The Blueprints College Access Initiative is a college access program sponsored by Alabama Possible. It connects 21st century high school students and their families with resources and relationships so that they are equipped to graduate from high school college and career ready. Blueprints was founded in 2009 by then University of Alabama student, Nicole Bohannon.
Blueprints utilizes a “near peer” mentoring model by engaging college students as mentors for high school students. College students demystify the college-going process and connect high school students with an information-rich network of supportive coaches who can help them make structured decisions and navigate the college admissions process.
Alabama is the sixth poorest state in the nation, and 19 percent of Alabamians – and 27.6 percent of our children — live below the federal poverty line. Alabama’s median household income is $9,508 less than the national average. According to the Southern Education Foundation, 60 percent of that gap is due to Alabamians’ low educational attainment. For every dollar earned by individuals with a bachelor’s degree, high school dropouts only earn 32 cents and high school graduates only earn 51 cents.
College graduates elevate their personal earning capacity and bring nearly $1 million in spending power back to their local communities. Educational attainment is also a key factor in employers’ site location decisions, which in turn can create a healthier economy for all of us.
Alabama’s levels of educational attainment are far below national rates, negatively impacting the growth of a college-going culture. In 2010, 82 percent of Alabama adults had a high school diploma, while only 22 percent had a bachelor’s degree or more, according to the Census Bureau.
Low-income, minority, and first-generation students are especially likely to lack specific types of “college knowledge,” including knowing how to finance a college education, complete basic admissions procedures, and make connections between career goals and educational requirements.
What is Blueprints?
Blueprints is a direct service-learning experience for college students to provide college access counseling and mentoring to low-income high school students. Eight in-classroom workshops are combined with after-school support, financial aid information and relationships with college mentors to create a college-positive culture. Sessions cover topics from financial aid and financial literacy to career assessments, resume building, interview skills and choosing the right school.
Blueprints creates opportunities for both students and parents to engage in the college application process, builds community support, provides opportunities for high school students to visit college campuses and equips new high school graduates for post-graduation success. After piloting the program with high school juniors and seniors, the Blueprints Initiative has adapted to address the needs of freshman and sophomore students, giving them plenty of time to plan, prepare and pursue their desired career or college plans.