Community Based Organizations (CBOs) are a valuable part of the college admissions landscape, especially for students from low-income families and at-risk communities. Unfortunately, CBOs are often underutilized. In fact, far too few students even know about CBOs. But today, with online education opening new pathways to higher education, CBOs have the potential to play an enormous role in helping disadvantaged students find and gain admission into affordable, accessible, and excellent online schools.
The number of high-quality accredited colleges offering online degrees continues to grow, consequently improving the flexibility, affordability, and accessibility of a college education. By removing many of the geographical, economic, and practical obstacles to earning a degree, online education has the potential to proliferate higher education in new and exciting ways. However, as with Community Based Organizations (CBOs), far too few at-risk students are unaware of these opportunities. Those who are aware may lack the support to access these opportunities.
This is where Community Based Organizations can play a profound role in the lives of countless students. Community Based Organizations (CBOs), sometimes also called College Access Organizations, are non-profit organizations dedicated to expanding student access to college-level education. CBOs can be a valuable resource to students who are exploring learning options, online or otherwise. CBOs can also play a critical role in helping students pay for their higher education.
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Otherwise, read on to learn more about Community Based Organizations and what these important entities can do to help you get into a top online school.
CBOs are non-profit organizations that use their resources to support the long-term educational goals of students who are disadvantaged, at-risk or facing economic obstacles. CBOs provide outreach, information, practical support, and material support on the path to college admissions. Many CBOs will also work directly with students during their college education to ensure ongoing success and eventual graduation.
According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC),
Community Based Organizations (CBOs) focusing on college access and retention generally work with underserved populations and undocumented students. Often these populations lack the resources, knowledge, and guidance to navigate the application and financial aid process without the additional support of CBOs. By and large, these students are not extensively courted by elite post-secondary institutions, or, seemingly, are affordable for many private and some public institutions. One of the challenges facing every CBO is finding resources to support these students in finding a good fit.
CBOs play an especially important role in ensuring that students in disadvantaged or low-income communities understand their higher education options and are given the tools to pursue their goals. Often in communities where the need is greatest, students and families lack awareness of their educational options. CBOs can play an important response part in filling this need.
According to EAB (formerly known as the Education Advisory Board),
Many students in these communities need advocates. Often, public schools in majority Black, Latinx, and Native areas are under-resourced and underfunded, so access to college tools, resources, knowledge, and personnel are limited. Many students choose among their best available options instead of making informed choices, which is where CBOs come in. We show them that college is an opportunity, which is often not mentioned nor spoken about readily in homes, shelters, or fully operationalized in their schools. When there is a support need, we marshal all available resources to fulfill it.
But instilling knowledge is a more comprehensive undertaking than simply informing students of their options. It is also necessary to make these options credible, realistic, and desirable. Because CBOs frequently work with at-risk populations, there is often a level of intervention that must take place in order to achieve this end. This is why many CBOs emphasize comprehensive support and outreach. While this support is meant to make a college education possible, it often starts at home. According to a report by the Pathways to College Network,
Many CBOs function as multi-service agencies, offering health care, housing, and food assistance as well as counseling and crisis intervention. As such, they can address the non-academic needs of students that affect their school achievement.
In other words, the role of a CBO can be quite expansive, and may depend on the needs of a given individual. Because the student demographics served by CBOs often present overlapping risk factors, it is the role of the CBO to identify and intervene with these risk factors as a way of improving educational performance, outcomes, and access.
CBOs also play the important role of sparking interest in and enthusiasm about higher education. For students from communities where higher education is not a common goal, this type of positive encouragement is important. CBOs can help students truly embrace the value and excitement of a good education in ways that many have never experienced prior to this intervention.
CBOs can help students get into online colleges by:
Because CBOs serve students who may be facing geographic, economic, and practical obstacles, these organizations are especially suited to help students who might benefit from an online education. Indeed, there is a direct overlap between the needs that both CBOs and online colleges serve. Both CBOs and online schools make college more accessible and affordable.
CBOs can also help students choose wisely. If you choose to go to an online college, it is important that you know how to navigate the landscape in search of the best online opportunities. Many of the top schools in the U.S. are offering a growing number of fully online degrees. But it is important that you know how to differentiate these schools from the many shady, for-profit schools and degree mills that also populate the online education landscape. A CBO can help you make sure you are on the right track. CBOs may provide advisors who can help you understand accreditation and spot the differences between quality online colleges and online education scams.
CBOs are definitely worth it considering it will not cost you a dime but it could significantly improve your chances of getting into a top online school. CBOs have a strong track record for achieving positive outcomes on behalf of their participants. The Pathways to College Network report indicates that these benefits begin early in high school but can make a positive difference for students all the way through college. From increased high school attendance and better grades to increased college enrollment rates and a greater likelihood of graduating college, students who enlist the help of CBOs typically enjoy positive educational outcomes.
In other words, a CBO can be an excellent resource not just as you pursue the dream of a college education but also as you advance within your education. Students who have received this level of support generally experience better outcomes once they arrive at school. NACAC offers its own directory of CBOs that can be accessed free of charge, and which make it their mission to advance opportunities for students of every background. For more, take a look at NACAC’s Coalition for Colleges List.
College admissions consultants can be costly, but many admissions consultants offer packages designed for low-income students and families. CBOs can help you find these specialized consultants. Your local CBO may actually be in a position to match you with a college admissions consultant in your region who offers discounted rates or even pro bono services to students with demonstrated financial need. College admissions consultants are often strong advocates for CBOs, and may work alongside local organizations to create avenues for access and affordability. College admissions consultants and CBOs share common ground by providing specialized access to certain scholarships, community service activities, internship opportunities, and more.
Some college admissions consultants may even work side by side with certain CBOs to create opportunities specifically built for those who might lack access. Take a look at our feature on How College Admissions Consultants Can Address Inequality in Higher Education.
If possible, inquire about college admissions consultant services matched to your financial needs. Your CBO may be able to open the door to this valuable opportunity, one which could significantly improve your chances of getting into the online school of your choice.
And if you feel you need additional support on your way to the college admissions process, some of The Best College Admissions Consulting Agencies may offer reduced rate packages or pro bono consultation for low-income or at-risk students. Check out our directory if you would like to choose a college admissions consultants & counselors in your home state.
And if budgeting for college is a top priority for you, make sure that you get the Best Return on Investment (ROI) From College.