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Matriculate helps low-income high-schoolers apply to college

| Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Nonprofit organization Matriculate works to ensure all students in the United States have equal access to quality higher education, regardless of their socio-economic background.

According to the organization’s website, only 8% of low-income, high-achieving high school students apply to college in a strategic manner similar to their high-income peers. Matriculate wants to change that.

Matriculate is a national organization based in New York City that assists high-achieving, low-income high school students in their transition to college. The organization pairs low-income high school students across the country with college advisors — college students interested in aiding the high schoolers through the college admissions process.

“[Matriculate helps] particularly those students who would traditionally be caught up in the cycle of under-maximizing where they have the talent to really thrive at a top college or university,” Staci Hundt, former interim director at the Office of Outreach and Engagement Recruitment at Notre Dame, said. “[The students] may not have a balanced college list built out that would allow them to kind of enter into the funnel at one of those top colleges or universities.”

Notre Dame is one of nine colleges and universities throughout the country partnering with Matriculate, according to their website. Hundt was involved with the launch of the Notre Dame chapter of Matriculate in the fall of 2015, she said.

“We actually became aware of [Matriculate] because of Sean Cullinan, who is a graduate of Notre Dame,” Hundt said. “At the time, he was a current parent, and he actually sat on the board at Matriculate. He introduced Don Bishop [Associate Vice President of Enrollment at Notre Dame] to the organization, and we thought, ‘Oh gosh, it would be a perfect fit for Notre Dame.’”

Matt Winkler, a Notre Dame senior, is the head advising fellow of the Notre Dame chapter of Matriculate. He has been involved with the organization on campus since his freshman year.

“The experience has been really amazing. Having the opportunity to both work with the various college students advising the high schoolers and my high schoolers over the years has been incredibly fulfilling,” he said.

During his time with Matriculate, Winkler said he has helped eight low-income, high-achieving students who are now freshmen at various universities and colleges.

“Seeing them grow from their junior year all the way through to the end of their senior year [of high school], and even through the beginning of their college experience right now, I still keep up to date with them, and they’re all doing really well,” Winkler said. “Over the time, you end up becoming pretty close to them.”

Winkler said he still keeps in touch with Eliza Haider, a current sophomore at Princeton University, whom he helped with the college process.

“I started with her at the end of her junior year, and she really didn’t know much about colleges at all. [She] really only knew the local colleges around her,” he said. “She’s doing really, really well.”

Students who participate in Matriculate are passionate about giving back to their communities, Winkler said.

“We’ve kind of all been given an incredible opportunity to come here and study those relationships and have really great college experiences, and I think all the advisors that I’ve seen have really been motivated to kind of pay it forward and help influence the lives of high schoolers,” he said.

The club recruits potential advisors each year in the fall, Winkler said.

“For people who are open to having difficult conversations with people and people who are friendly and outgoing and willing to put in the time, I can see those types of people would have an easy path to becoming an advisor,” he said.

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