CSO is a fantastic organization! I was awarded a scholarship from them, and it is helping me very much in attending USC. They also have given me the opportunity to blog in order to help high school students in their college process. They are reaching out to so many students across the US, and I am so thankful for everything they have done for me.
Our students have found both the guidebook and www.CSOCollegeCenter.org essential to their college searches. Each are easy to navigate and target the information that's most important to them. There's no other resource that offers this kind and quality of information. "Opportunity" is the perfect word for what CSO is creating. That's just what our students need!
CSO provided excellent information in a timely manner for a first generation college student and her family as she made a decision about which school to attend. It mattered to her to find a university that understood her desire to be challenged intellectually but assisted financially and socially. She did not believe she "belonged" on an elite campus because she had very little money. With the help of the guide, she was able to identify top-ranked schools that also supported the transition of first-generation, low income students. No other guide does this!
Making it to college is hard enough when you have that positive encouragement and support. When you don't have these things, it can seem impossible. CSO has given me the opportunity to share my story with other future first-generation college students and motivate them to work hard in school. With no one in my life that went to college, I felt like I could never make it either. With CSO, I am able to provide that connection with students throughout the country and help them see that they too can make it to college. If it wasn't for CSO, I wouldn't be able to do so.
CSO has provided us with expert guidance, particularly when our program was just getting off the ground. Staff at CSO visited us, analyzed our strengths and weaknesses and provided us with a consultant report that was instrumental in laying out a plan to provide more dynamic college access services in our part of northern Ohio. Since then, CSO has frequently provided us with technical know-how and program-level advice. Their knowledge of college access and support services is superb.
I invited CSO's staff to our campus for our annual admissions retreat. We discussed sound strategies for outreach and recruitment of underserved student populations, including CSO's recommended best practice to build relationships with college access programs and CBOs on recruitment travels. The visit was very valuable for our office and helped staff think outside the box and encouraged us to be creative in our admissions practices.
This program is amazing, and I really wished it had existed when I was in high school. As a blogger, I really enjoy being able to talk about my experiences at an ivy league university to fellow disadvantaged students. I am one of the few low SES students at my college, and I understand how hard it is to learn about how to apply to college and prepare for college without the traditional things that entering college students have, such as a laptop, school supplies, and guidance and support from friends and family. I get to help change that by telling younger students about my experiences, and as one of 15 or so other bloggers, I get to contribute to a college going culture. Not only am I empowered to help other students like me in achieving a better life, but also I am helped by CSO with a scholarship stipend to help me pay for my school expenses (including a new printer and computer when mine broke down the middle of the semester!) This program has is fairly new, yet already it's having a wonderful impact. There is something quite empowering in hearing the experiences of students like you telling you that you CAN achieve, they did it themselves, and they can give you guidance tailored to you. Thank you CSO!
The Center for Student Opportunity Scholarship helps me each semester with books and travel. I decided to go 2,000 miles away from home, and knowing each semester that this scholarship would allow me to pay for my travel home/books without taking out loans, was a tremendous relief. Board members consistently checked in with me throughout the semester, and were always very available when I had questions. Also, blogging helped me self-reflect on my first year, and note the changes as my year continued through my blog. I'm now a mentor on campus for different students, and I promote the CSO Scholarship to many of my students, as many of them are first-generation, low-income, or students of color. Systems of support are INTEGRAL in the college experience, and CSO has been by my side since the beginning of freshman year!