Nicole Falcey '06 leads an SAT preparation class for Greater Boston high school students. The classes are held twice weekly at St. Columbkilleís School in Brighton. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
Outreach Includes SAT Prep
BC in pilot program to improve area students' college admission chances
By Reid Oslin
Boston College has joined with a local charitable foundation and Boston-area schools to provide a pilot Scholastic Aptitude Test enrichment course aimed at improving local high school students' opportunities for college admission.
Seventeen high school students from Allston and Brighton are enrolled in a no-cost SAT preparatory course, which meets twice weekly at St. Columbkille's School in Brighton. The course is taught by instructors - including several BC students - hired by Kaplan Inc., a national test preparation organization.
The SAT prep program is funded by a $3,100 grant from the Brian J. Honan Charitable Fund, a $2,000 contribution from the University and a $1,000 gift from an anonymous donor. Established in memory of the late Boston city councilor, a 1985 Boston College graduate who died in 2002, the Honan Fund provides grants for various educational, recreational, housing and health care projects that benefit residents of the Allston-Brighton neighborhood.
"I think this is a real 'win-win' situation," says Millie McLaughlin of Allston, whose son John, a Matignon High student, is enrolled in the SAT course. "Boston College has given our children the opportunity to better prepare for the SAT tests, and the students have stepped up to the plate and filled the program very quickly. Any opportunity like this to level the playing field when they are applying to colleges, to bring our kids up to par, to make them more competitive is absolutely fantastic.
"I am hoping it enables a lot more of our local kids to do better on the SATs so that more of them are accepted into our local colleges - not just BC, but all of our local colleges."
"One of the big things people in the neighborhoods ask about is how young people in the Allston-Brighton community can have access to Boston College," said Vice President for Governmental and Community Affairs Thomas Keady, "and one of the big stumbling blocks over the years has been SAT scores."
Keady noted that Boston College each year provides 10 full-tuition scholarships to qualified high school graduates from the neighboring Allston-Brighton community. If not enough qualified candidates apply, the scholarships are then offered to students from other parts of the city.
"We had the idea that if we could help raise the scores of students who are interested in going to college - not just to BC, but to any college - this would really be a benefit to the community," said Thomas Walsh '00, a graduate student in the Woods College of Advancing Studies who is overseeing the pilot SAT program for Keady's office.
"Right now, we are targeting SAT scores," Walsh said. "In the future, we might even want to add some additional college access preparation skills, such as how to fill out college applications and selecting the proper curriculum while in high school."
The SAT program is open to students at any Boston-area high school who live in Brighton or Allston. "It's a great opportunity and the value is wonderful," says Genevieve White, a guidance counselor at Brighton High School, where two students are enrolled in the prep course. "People have no idea how expensive that type of test preparation course is," she said. "It's an incredibly generous offer. I hope in the future that even more students will sign up for it."
In addition to Brighton and Matignon high schools, students in the SAT class attend Boston Latin School, Mount St. Joseph Academy, Newton Country Day School, North Cambridge Catholic and Mount Alvernia high schools.
McLaughlin says her son has realized that the extra academic work and time commitment of the SAT classes will have a definite benefit as he plans his academic future.
"He's certainly not too excited about being up early every Saturday morning for class," McLaughlin laughed. "But I know he is very happy for the opportunity. The kids are very grateful and when it is over and they see the results, I think that they are going to be very, very happy."