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Associated Colleges of Illinois

  • Associated Colleges of Illinois
  • 70 E. Lake St. Suite 1418
  • Chicago, IL 60601
  • 312-263-2391
  • 1952
  • Marcia Hanlon
  • Director, College Readiness & Completion Initiative
  • 312-263-2391 ext.533

Program Description

Why a College Readiness and Completion Initiative?

The Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success reports Illinois has one of the nation's worst educational attainment gaps.

  • Of 100 Illinois students who enter 9th grade, only 76 graduate from high school; 42 enter college; and only 28 persist beyond freshman year.
  • White students are 28% more likely than black or Latino students to enroll in college. College participation for low-income students dropped 5% in the past 10 years.
  • Chicago Public School alumni who go to college (only about 52%) often choose colleges "mismatched" to their academic profile, with poor retention rates. Even CPS students with ACT scores and GPAs that qualify them for selective/very selective colleges often do not apply to such institutions.

  • The Associated Colleges of Illinois seeks to change this dismal picture by pursuing one of the Agenda's key recommended strategies: improving college readiness through post-secondary and high school partnerships. In partnership with select inner-city high schools, ACI's College Readiness and Completion Initiative (CRCI) provides a comprehensive and coordinated response to the compelling need to improve high school graduation, college enrollment, and degree completion rates among low-income, minority, and first-generation students.

    A Track Record of Success

    CRCI evolves from ACI's 15 years of experience meeting the college readiness needs of more than 2,000 students. When ACI introduced its College Readiness Program (1996) and its College Success Network (2006), these initiatives were among Illinois' first efforts to promote college access and completion among low-income, minority, and first-generation degree seekers.

    Annual assessments of these ACI initiatives show impressive outcomes. During the past 12 years, ACI's College Readiness Program reported consistently high graduation and college enrollment rates: On average, 99% of participants finished high school, and 95% enrolled in college immediately thereafter. Nationwide, only 26% of low-income students and 41% of minority students who enroll in college ultimately earn a degree. However, among ACI's College Success Network students who enrolled in member colleges in 2006, 65% had earned a degree four years later.

    ACI's new College Readiness and Completion Initiative builds on these successes to create a seamless continuum of supports that follows students from high school through college and beyond.

    CRCI Program Overview

    ACIs CRCI partners the Associated Colleges of Illinois, its member colleges, and select inner-city high schools to:

  • Inspire promising high school students to set college as their goal and to complete the activities required to reach that goal
  • Enrich ACT prep in support of achieving scores of 20 or above
  • Match students to appropriate 4-year colleges best equipped to actively promote their success
  • Provide sufficient supports -- financial, academic, and personal -- to enable students to earn degrees within four years.

  • To accomplish these goals, ACI provides:

  • College readiness services for high school students, delivering critical experiential, campus-based learning opportunities, including ACI's ISME (Intensive Science and Math Experiences), Summer Academies, and college bus tours, as well as expert advice in college access, selection, and financing.
  • College completion supports -- critical financial aid, mentoring, and other services that promote college success and degree completion for CRCI participants enrolled at ACI member colleges and universities
  • Professional Development that enhances the advising skills of college counselors and teachers at partner high schools.
  • Success Stories

    Maribel dreamed of graduating high school and entering college, but she faced seemingly insurmountable barriers. Confined to a wheelchair, this young Hispanic woman was told she would never do well, that everything would be harder for her. "But as strong as the negative and unjust views of the world can be," says Maribel, "there are things that are stronger and drive me to go on with my education."

    ACI's College Readiness Program, a four-year, year-round program of academic enrichment and college access information, has helped Maribel graduate from high school and map the road to college. Maribel says: "ACI has given me new hope. I always thought that my options were very limited because of not having the money to pay for it. ACI taught me to look at things differently and gave me the opportunity to experience college. All of these things have helped me be less afraid of things to come."

    ACI's College Readiness team helped Maribel connect to Trinity Christian College, which awarded her the scholarship she needed to make her college dreams come true. Maribel is set to graduate from Trinity Christian College soon.

    Services Provided

    • Academic enrichment/tutoring/study skills
    • Career exploration and counseling/internships
    • College admissions guidance and counseling
    • College fairs/campus visits
    • College transition and retention support
    • Financial aid advising/FAFSA completion
    • Mentoring
    • Parent/family services
    • SAT/ACT and other test preparation
    • Scholarships and last-dollar grants
    • Science, tech, engineering, & math (STEM)

    Demographics

    Race & Ethnicity

    • White: 5%
    • Asian or Pacific Islander: 18%
    • Hispanic/Latino: 47%
    • African American: 30%

    Education Level and
    Number of Students

    • High School: 120
    • Middle School: 0
    • Elementary School: 0
    • Post-secondary: 42
    • Non-traditional: 0

    First-Generation

    • More than 75%

    Representative
    Colleges Attended
    by Alumni

    • Augustana College - Illinois
    • Aurora University
    • Concordia University-Chicago
    • Dominican University
    • Elmhurst College
    • Eureka College
    • Greenville College
    • Illinois College
    • Knox College
    • Lake Forest College
    • Lewis University
    • McKendree University
    • Millikin University
    • Monmouth College
    • North Central College
    • North Park University
    • Olivet College
    • Principia College
    • Quincy University
    • Rockford University
    • Trinity Christian College
    • University of St Francis

    Matriculation & Completion

    • 4-yr College Matriculation: 95%
    • 4-yr College Graduation: 65%