Summer in February: Summer Academy Students Making Gains with Early Applications

Data Tools and PracticesPostsecondary ReadinessRISE by 5 Strategies

This past summer, more than 500 rising seniors participated in a Summer Academy at one of our nine Core Network schools. Guided by dedicated counselors and teachers, these students achieved significant milestones on their journeys toward college. They successfully tackled crucial tasks such as finalizing their college lists, completing the common application, developing essays, creating FSA IDs, and more!

When summer academies concluded and the school year began, the momentum continued as educators provided ongoing direct support and follow-ups to students. Behind the scenes, Grade 12 Teams utilized the RISE Data Hub to monitor students’ progress in achieving their postsecondary milestones. The Data Hub provides educators with a holistic view of potential barriers that may hinder a student’s progress and allows for a real-time assessment of intervention strategies and their impact on student outcomes.

Data shown is synthetic to protect student privacy.

Following their Summer Academy programming, each Network school set a mid-year goal for their Summer Academy student cohort for application completion. Some schools are setting the pace; at Hartford Public High School (HPHS), every single Summer Academy student has successfully applied to college. Andrea Crittenden, Summer Academy Coordinator and College & Career Coordinator at HPHS, stated, “It really came down to simple persistence. We utilized the RISE Data Hub to help us identify which students needed support with milestone completion. We stayed focused on helping them cross the finish line.” 

Jenni Melnik, Summer Academy Coordinator and  College & Career Counselor at Middletown High School, is grateful that so many students participated in the MHS summer program. “The relationships we built over the summer allowed us to get right to work in the fall,” said Melnik. “The majority of Summer Academy students felt prepared and excited about applying.” Indeed, all 67 students who attended the MHS Summer Academy have successfully applied to college, an accomplishment proudly celebrated at a recent ice cream social. “Summer Academy gave students the confidence needed to complete their applications early in the school year, which ultimately helped our team and the Class of 2024 meet our goals,” Melnik reflected.  

Middletown High School seniors who attended Summer Academy celebrated 100% of their cohort applying to college at an ice cream social.

Manchester High School had the highest summer academy enrollment, with 89 students attending, and 96 percent of those students have already applied to college. “Reassurance was big this round,” said Vanessa McGee, Summer Academy Coordinator and College & Career Facilitator at Manchester High School. “There was a lot of worry and anxiety from students around all the stops in the application process, but once they were clear on timelines and next steps, they could charge forward.” Manchester’s program ran for two weeks and included college campus tours throughout Connecticut. Vanessa shared, “It was remarkable to see their confidence shift and we’ve seen the excitement with the acceptances they have received. We are proud of how the program is growing and becoming more impactful.”

At this point in the academic year, an impressive 95 percent of Summer Academy participants (486 out of 514) across the Network have successfully applied to college. By comparison, the percentage of students who did not attend a Summer Academy and have completed an application is lagging by 20 points. Lastly, and most remarkably, first-generation college students who attended a Summer Academy have matched their peers’ 95 percent completion rate. These figures are encouraging as we continue to build upon Summer Academy programming as a key transition support for rising seniors. We are thankful to everyone involved in supporting these students, we are excited to see what is ahead for them!