Getting some help picking a college

Successfully navigating the college application process is a challenge for anyone — it’s an even bigger challenge if you’re the first person in your family to go to college.

Luckily, some schools take the job of advising those students very seriously. “Most of the students I work with will be first-generation college students,” says Meredith McGlinchey, college adviser at the Mastery Charter School’s Pickett campus in Germantown.

Students take SAT preparation and a senior college readiness class; they also get individual advising. They can sign up for trips to visit colleges in the Philadelphia area and beyond. “We’re going up to NYU and Columbia this week,” McGlinchey reports.

She advises students to look at two main factors when picking a school. The first is whether the school offers the major the student is interested in. “These kids want to go to college to prepare for a career,” McGlinchey says. The other is retention rates. “There’s no point in going to college, maybe running up a lot of debt, if you’re not going to finish,” she emphasizes.

Since this is the first senior class at the Pickett campus, they’re setting the bar of admission rates this year. “We already have two people who have been admitted,” McGlinchey says with understandable pride, “and it’s only October. I think we’ll do really well.”

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