Since 2010, the Center for Access and Attainment has hosted a summer program called College Connect for high school junior and senior students from Chicago's neighborhood public and Catholic high schools.
This intensive five-week program of academic enrichment, cultural exploration and career awareness experiences targets students with college potential and the motivation to succeed but who often face difficulties navigating the road to college.
College Connect provides participants with an opportunity to take a college-level class during the summer on DePaul's Lincoln Park campus, and helps students to explore the "why" and "how" of going to college after high school graduation — information that many students lack. Past courses included Religions in Chicago, a course which examines the richness and diversity of religious traditions and communities in the city; Social Injustice, a course that examines enactments of social injustice across several Chicago paradigms; and Mission (Im)Possible, a course that introduces students to ethnographic inquiry.
In addition to introducing students to college-level academics, the program places emphasis on college readiness — namely social, cultural and financial competence. College Connect is designed to build students' confidence by introducing them to a college environment and college-level expectations for class performance, group projects, writing and critical thinking. At the same time, the program helps to build a viable pathway to enrollment at DePaul.
Admission in the program is based on counselor recommendations and academic achievement, as well as evidence of college preparatory work.
Past College Connect participants have enrolled at DePaul at much higher rates than would normally be associated with enrollment from summer enrichment programs. Of the seniors in the summer 2012 program, 70 percent applied to DePaul and 69 percent were admitted — 65 percent enrolled.