Our Argument for College Success

Oscar Wang
Founder & Executive Director
oscar@collegetogether.org

LaToya D. Tufts
Director of Mentoring
latoya@collegetogether.org

 
 

Conventional wisdom asks where we should send individual students away for college, particularly four-year institutions. But this worn approach has led our city to send generations of students who need the most support — many of whom are first-in-their-family to attend college — to take on remarkable amounts of debt at institutions that have limited resources to support them academically or financially. And it has clearly failed. At just 24%, Philadelphia has one of the lowest college attainment rates of any large city in the country. And a staggering 60% of our city’s college-goers drop out with a devastating combination: debt but no degree.

Enter CollegeTogether, the local college success nonprofit.

Founded in 2014, we are challenging the educational status quo and envisioning an affordable and supportive college pathway. Instead of just asking where to send students for college, we are changing the conversation to ask where and how we can best support them through college.

The “where,” it turns out, is right here in Philadelphia at the institution that, we argue, is the most accessible and affordable option for a grand majority of our city’s students: the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP). And the “how” is to empower students with the skills to support each other within a communal context.

We bring Philadelphians together and empower them to support one another in a learning community at CCP that we call the “Philly College Team” (PCT). As team members, students mentor one another through graduation. By investing in students right here at home and enabling them to invest in each other, we can equip our city’s youth with a foundational degree and change the way that we all think about college success.