It's about that time of year where high school seniors are just marking the days until they toss their caps in the air and say deuces to the institution that put up with them for four years. Most have already decided what college they plan on being at by the start of next fall.
Others have not. They don't even know if college is right for them.
According to Ali Younes, a University of Houston senior and founder of ATG Foundations (Achieving the Greatest), a non-profit organization aimed at helping students prepare for the rigors of college, there is no reason for them to not be in college.
"One thing we emphasize is that college is for everybody, I don't care who you are," Younes told Hair Balls. "I don't care how bad you did in high school, I don't care how bad you did on tests like the SAT, the TAKS test or STAAR, college is for everybody."
ATG Foundations was birthed from Younes assisting many of his friends who didn't know the process of getting into college, including enrollment paperwork, financial aid, etc. He then got calls from people he didn't even know, asking for help. Realizing that it was a bigger problem than imagined, ATG Foundations was born.
"The biggest reason why I wanted to do it is to break the cycles of poverty. The only way to do that, in my sense, the legitimate way, is through education," Younes said. "As people go through poverty, it's more likely that their descendants are going to go through the same thing. So, the only way to do break it is through education, putting the same people that are going through it, put them through an educational career and hopefully they have a good professional career afterwards."
The organization officially began in the fall of 2011 and has expanded to going to different high schools and reaching out to high school seniors. They give a presentation, in a way that's not offending, and tell the students what to expect in college and how they're there to help assist them.
Along with touring high schools, ATG Foundations also provides peer-to-peer help from a college student. They have over 35 interns who assist students, and during the semester, monitor their grades, provide support and make sure they don't drop out of college. And so far, so good, they've already helped over 300 students. Because of how important education is, Younes hopes he can continue to grow his organization and spread the word.
"If we can get the city involved, the school districts, community college or university involved and the parents involved, that would be awesome," Younes said. "It's a work in progress and hopefully one day soon in the near future, we can do that and increase the students remaining in college and not dropping out."
The best part about this is that it's completely free, every college student's favorite word.
"Everything in the ATG Foundation is totally free. The services are free to the high schools, as well as the services are free to the students," Younes said. "We don't charge anything. It's a very important aspect, because these students can't afford it."
If you're a high school senior that just needs that little push, there are people willing to help, like ATG Foundations. College is tough, but with the right support, you could get through it.
Plus, once you're done, you can get PAID! So, why not go for it?
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.