Interview with Melondy Doddy, Assistant Director of TCU Advising Corps, Texas Christian University

Tell us a little about the TCU Advising Corps. How does it work?

The Texas Christian University College Advising Corps is a partnership between the university, the National College Advising Corps, local school districts, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to provide college advising services for students in the area. Our chapter works with 24 high schools in seven local school districts in and around Fort Worth, Texas that have been identified as schools in need of college advising.
Our advisers assist more than 10,000 seniors each year and support them in figuring out their post graduate plans through registering for SAT/ACT, hosting test-prep classes, helping with financial aid and FAFSA, scholarships, and completing college applicaitons. Upon graduation, advisers keep in contact to make sure that students are signed up for orientation and ready for success. Our advisers are all recent TCU graduates who are old enough to have experience, but young enough to be able to speak to seniors in a relatable way. Some are even graduates of the high schools that they are placed in. Our advising model is near-pear, and based on the philosophy of best fit and college match.
We’ve done a great job of creating environments within the high schools to provide students with all of their options for college. Though we are a based within the TCU College of Education’s Center for Public Education, we promote all colleges. Our advisers take a week-long bus tour as part of their training where they visit different colleges and universities that are popular with our students. We invite representatives from local institutions to speak to our advisers so they are better equipped to advise the high school students on that school. Our advisors also go through a six week training course where they hear from professors of psychology about speaking to diverse groups of students.
This program has been very successful both for TCU and our high school partners. TCU is located in Fort Worth, and works hard to make sure they are providing services to educate community. We truly believe that a well educated student will become a well educated citizen no matter where they go to college. A real win for us is when a student walks across the graduation stage with a plan in mind for their future.
The presentation itself was led by the Fort Worth school district. We discussed what it means to have a higher education partner, what services they provide, and how to replicate this model. Schools can start these programs through partnerships with national organizations, like the College Advising, but the foundation for college access can start within the school. It takes one high school counselor who is passionate and administrator at a higher education institution to build this bridge.