Diving into the college admissions process can be overwhelming—for many students, it’s hard to even know where to start. The NYU College Access Leadership Institute (NYU CALI) was formed to fill in the gaps in what high schoolers need to know and empower them with the forward momentum they need. A decade later, the program is still going strong and continues to adapt to changing times and diverse student needs.

A collage: 1) a group of students in class; 2) the profile of a student in class.
Bridging the College-Readiness Divide

NYU CALI has guided more than 750 high school juniors and seniors through the steps needed to apply to college. Many of these students are the first in their families to attend college, and they don’t have generations of experience to fall back on. A large number come from under-resourced school districts where they receive little one-on-one attention from a school counselor as they weigh their college options. NYU CALI has helped bridge the divide in students’ college access and readiness.

Learn the Most Important Application Information

The annual weeklong program looked a little different this year: students attended virtual sessions for the first time ever. Activities like breakout sessions and a virtual scavenger hunt helped them feel connected and involved.

“I am just so happy, motivated, and inspired, because we got to speak to a diverse range of students from NYU and see how successful they are,” says Viviana Luna, a 2020 NYU CALI student who will be the first in her family to attend college.

The sessions cover college application basics—such as standardized testing, essay writing, and scholarships—plus deeper dives into topics such as financial literacy and engaging with admissions staff. Program graduates also receive a waiver for NYU’s application fee, though they can choose to apply anywhere they’d like. Past participants have been accepted into colleges spanning the country.

A student presenting at a podium in a classroom
Become a Leader Among Your Peers

The hundreds of NYU CALI graduates are far from the only high schoolers who have been influenced by the program in the past 10 years. The students return to their high schools as trained ambassadors. They lead their very own college access workshops—using tools they gained from the institute—and mentor other students who have the same questions they once did.

As NYU CALI’s leaders mark the milestone and look ahead to their next decade, they hope to grow the program further to reach even more students. Each participant creates a ripple effect with the power to open doors in historically underserved and marginalized communities and change the face of future college classes around the country.