Program Helps Low-Income Students Reach College

By Holly Wagner, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Like most high school seniors, Kyila Fears is eager to finish up and move on. In her family, college is not an option; it’s mandatory.

“My mom instilled in me the value in education. She’s always made sure I knew I was going to college,” she said. “My goal is to either study theatre or anthropology.”

But Fears knew she needed help achieving that goal.

“I wanted to know how I was going to pay for college and how I was going to get into college.”

She got connected with Tyson Morgan, the Admission Possible coach at Humboldt Senior High. Morgan helped her practice for the ACT. She brought her score up from an 11 to a 20.

Morgan also helped Fears figure out what schools would be a good fit, and how to apply for financial aid and scholarships.

“She has a lot of drive. For me, it was a matter of giving her concrete ways to go about achieving what she wants,” said Morgan.

Coaches like Tyson are spread out at high schools throughout the Twin Cities. In total, Admission Possible is currently working with 1,400 students from low income families.

The program was founded by Jim McCorkell, who says he grew up in a low-income family.

“My parents didn’t finish high school let alone get to college,” said McCorkell.

McCorkell says his brothers and sisters paved the way for him. He was finishing up grad school at Harvard when the idea popped into his head.

“I kind of always knew I wanted to be a do-gooder. I went to graduate school knowing I wanted to do something to help the world,” he said.

He wanted to help create opportunity for other students. Since the program started 10 years ago, Admission Possible has helped more than 3,000 students get to college. McCorkell believes they can help more, many more.

“We think there are 200,000 kids who could be going to college from low income backgrounds who aren’t, and that’s an enormous amount of potential for our country and for those students.”

For Fears, the question is no longer how she’ll get into school it’s where will she go to school. She’s been admitted to Loyola University in New Orleans, Pace University in New York, and St. Cloud State.

The soon to be high school graduate is excited about her future, and so is her mother.

“My mom, she didn’t get to finish school. I’m going to go to school and make her proud.”

The Admission Possible program is in the process of expanding into another state in addition to Minnesota and Wisconsin. The possible sites include Chicago, Omaha, and Portland, Ore.

The program is actively looking for new students to enroll.

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