College is hard. Harder even for those who do not have a base or a trusty advisor whether on or off campus. If this is you and you still are attending higher education, good for you! I am so proud of you!
This post is titled: Opportunity Program Adjacent because that’s exactly what I, a College Advisor, is advising you to be. This post may not be for everyone, so don’t worry.
What is an Opportunity Program? An Opportunity Program is a program that supports students financially and academically through college. This includes funding that the student can put towards books, food, transportation, clothing, school supplies, etc. This includes free tutoring, free printing, specific spaces for students in the program on campus, one on one academic advising multiple times a month.
There are levels to this shit.
City University of New York Community Colleges: CD (College Discovery)
City University of New York Senior Colleges: SEEK (Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge)
State University of New York Community College and Senior College: EOP (Educational Opportunity Program)
SOME New York Private Colleges and Universities: HEOP (Higher Educational Opportunity Program)
My audience for this post is anyone who is NOT in these programs. So why would I explain them in so much detail? So you know what I want you to get into. Not the programs themselves, remember ‘Opportunity Program Adjacent.’
I want you to get the assistance you need. I want you to know what Opportunity Programs are in the schools you attend so my evil plan works. I want you to be a detective. To self-advocate. I want you to figure out how to be the best academic you.
First step: Does your school have one? Which one? If not, I’m sorry, but maybe I can still help.
Second step: Track the program’s calendar. These programs are overly helpful. They plan out days to schedule classes, they plan out days to file financial aid, they plan out days to relax during finals!! Stalk. Them.
Third step: Linger around the space where the event occurs. Best case scenario – you see a familiar face from one of your classes. TALK THEM UP. MAKE FRIENDS. Worst case scenario – you see no one you know. FIND THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE. We are a friendly bunch, those who advise and those who are advised in Opportunity Programs. Be friendly and you can maybe wiggle into planning, or if you do make a friend they can help you figure out your schedule since they just did it!
Side note; This guide does not help you financially, though if you are a good human maybe you can ‘work study’ in the program and get assistance that way.
Fourth step: If all went well, be openly thankful. Yes, people are nice, but it is still great to let them know their niceness is appreciated and acknowledged. They could’ve just kicked you out.
Fifth step: Branch out to assist others.
If the foot in the door approach didn’t help, sorry about that. But there’s still hope! Following their schedule by yourself is also handy, and since most Opportunity Programs register for classes and file financial aid earlier than regular students you’ll be early! Go to the financial aid office, go to the bursars’ office, pull up Degreeworks or track down a really nice academic advisor(of any subject!). Since you’re chatting them up early they’ll have a bit more time and patience and will be able to direct you to who you need if applicable. Again, self-advocacy! Be strong! Be confident! But be a little unsure if you’re a little unsure. Be honest. Be inquisitive! Be yourself.
If your school does not have an Opportunity Program, find the school nearest you that does and find their schedule. We all work on the same clock, funnily enough, and that can still keep you in check and you can still follow the advice above.
Opportunity Programs are great. I should know, I’m in one. But mostly students like them for their money. Which is great, I am not complaining. But the gem of them is the academic stability they supply. They are the answers to unknown questions and frustrated grumbles as you walk home. And you don’t have to be in an Opportunity Program to reap the benefits, in as little a shady way as I can say this. If you feel like you need supports your school isn’t throwing at you, come try it. Be Opportunity Program Adjacent.