Building a Better Bridge: Helping Young Adults Enter and Succeed in College

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Youth Development Institute
45 pages. $10.

This report in the Supporting College Access and Success for Young Adult Learners series features an experiment in guiding young adults with GEDs (up to age 24) through a two-year college program. Backed by a network of partners, Megan Gray from Cypress Hills Local Development Corp. (a community-based organization) and Vanessa Villanueva from the New York City College of Technology worked closely together as student advocates for 12 young adults. Rusty in academic skills and juggling jobs and families, the students faced the challenge of full-time college.

During summer sessions preparing the group for college life, Gray found the candidates anxious and far from “college-ready.” First lesson: Planners should have allowed time for unexpected needs, such as financial literacy and funding for transportation, child care and books. Some students failed placement tests and fell behind without textbooks, struggling with exhausting schedules and lack of confidence. Yet with strong mentoring, most made it through the first year. In the second year, the program expanded to 30 students.

This candid report reveals how agency and college staff members adapted different styles and priorities to work effectively together. Others considering similar partnerships will find advice and inspiration here. (646) 943-8829,