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Reimagining the Road to Graduation

The Need for Extraordinary Systems to Get Students to and Through College

Who assists students on their journey to and through college and career, and how can they work together to build better systems of support?


Counselors & College Access Organizations   /   K-12 Staff   /   Higher Education Staff   /   Families   /   Peers   /   Employers & Community-based Organizations   /   Policymakers   /   Funders & Intermediaries




To many students, especially those without siblings or parents who have gone to college, peers provide a sense of possibility and encouragement. Peers in K-12 schools and college influence students’ sense of belonging, but these support networks are frayed due to distance learning and isolation. 

“Elevating voices doesn't just mean amplifying them — elevating means putting those voices in power. I think my generation intuitively understands that. The generation in control of our government understands this but ignores it.” —Student

Common Pitfalls That Peers Face
  • Fear of fitting in with college peers, which is especially amplified for first-generation college students. 
  • Difficulty connecting authentically, either in person or virtually, making it harder for students to ask for help navigating college or career challenges.
  • Normalization of taking a gap year amid the pandemic — even for students for whom this is not the best choice.
Mindset Shifts to Help Peers Better Target Their Support
  • Help other students feel a sense of belonging, making the adjustment to college or other challenges feel less isolating.
  • Share lessons from the college experience with new students.  
  • Create affinity groups if none exist.
Opportunities to Build a More Coherent System in Concert with Adults
  • Elevate student and family stories to leaders in schools, higher education, and community organizations.
  • Advocate to policymakers for solutions that will support students.
Further Reading
  • View student stories where peers played a supportive role: Frankie, Mel, Xavier
  • View a complete list of concrete recommendations for peers here.  
Meet the Supporters
Who supports students on their journey to and through college and career? What mindset shifts can these supporters make to better coordinate high school, postsecondary, and workforce systems?