Why we still love Raise.me

Cornell College Raise.me PortalLast month we told you that we decided to join Raise.me. Since then, some educators have raised questions in the Huffington Post and The Gazette about how the program truly benefits students. Steve Nelson, head of a Manhattan high school, points out some areas where Raise.me needs more transparency.

Nelson writes, “There is no evidence the accumulated ‘dollars’ actually add to what a student might have received in a total aid package.”

While Nelson hits on a point of interest, it need not be a point of concern. He is correct in thinking that a student who is involved in extracurricular activities and maintains a high GPA will likely get a sizable scholarship whether they participate in Raise.me or not.

College-readiness can be an overwhelming idea, but an interactive web tool like Raise.me can de-mystify it. Raise.me isn’t a requirement, it’s an option that allows students to tackle the big task of making themselves college-ready by breaking it into small, manageable tasks. It’s fun. It’s addictive. Students receive affirmation of their good work early—starting with the 9th grade—and often, and they stay motivated to keep working.

Another aspect we love is that the program connects students to colleges in a venue which is well-known and comfortable to today’s high school students: an online profile. Students add a photo of themselves, information about their coursework, and information about their activities. They choose which colleges to engage.

The colleges, in turn, can express who they are to students who are trying to figure out the right fit for themselves. Students can get an idea of each participating college’s values through the scholarships they offer. For instance, while some colleges offer big micro-scholarships for standardized test scores, Cornell College micro-scholarships are focused on leadership activity—because that’s what we value.

Here are just a few ways that students can earn micro-scholarships at Cornell through Raise.me:

  • Participate in an Extracurricular Activity
  • Take on a leadership role in an Extracurricular Activity
  • Volunteer in the Community
  • Earn the Girl Scout Gold Award or the Eagle Award
  • Earn an award at a robotics competition

If students are asking you about Raise.me, we would prefer that you provide them with transparency: Will they get more scholarships for doing the same work with Raise.me as without it? Probably not. But, if you have a student that finds checklists motivating, or who needs a little guidance about how what they’re doing now can prepare for them for college, Raise.me can help.

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