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Aerial view of Hayes Hall on the South Campus of the University at Buffalo

Published September 11, 2018

GSE helps establish College Success Centers in Buffalo Public Schools

Helping high school students navigate the college choice process

In 2012, Nathan Daun-Barnett, associate professor from the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, partnered with Buffalo Public Schools and the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood to create a College Success Center at Bennett High School, which is one of the district’s persistently low achieving schools.

The center was designed to free school counselors from the administrative burden of the college choice process so that they could spend more time attending to the social, emotional, and academic needs of their students, as well as assist in the college transition process.

During the second year of operation, the College Success Center at Bennett High School reported more than 3,200 visits, with nearly three-quarters of all students in the school visiting at least once. The students were served by one doctoral graduate assistant and two Americorps Service volunteers.

Since that time, six additional centers have been created in Buffalo Public Schools; one in 2014 (International Preparatory School at Grover Cleveland High School) and five in 2016. Currently, all seven centers are funded by a New York State GEAR UP grant.

During the 2017–18 school year, the seven centers hosted over 10,000 visits, including center-sponsored activities. Fourteen graduate students from UB and Buffalo State College assisted students with the college search, application and financial aid processes, as well as student mentoring and tutoring support.

“Our goal was to create a space … where students could engage in casual conversations with college students who shared similar experiences, came from similar backgrounds and have figured out how to be successful in college,” said Daun-Barnett. “So far, we have been able to do just that.”

Daun-Barnett has two future goals for this work, which is informed by his research on the role of school counselors in the college choice process. The first is to examine the effects of this model on student outcomes and the work of school counselors. The second goal is to refine the model and to adapt it to every school in the Buffalo Public Schools district.

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