Jocelyne Lioe

Starting a College Cohort Club

— Jocelyne Lioe (St. Petersburg High School IB Program)

I am a sophomore in the IB Program at St. Petersburg High School in St. Petersburg, Florida. I worked together with fellow cohort students at my school [Anna (10th grade); Chelsea (11th grade); and Collin (12th grade)] to start a College Cohort Club. The process of starting up a College Cohort Club is not complicated, but it will take a lot of thought and conversations with staff at the Foundation for Ensuring Access and Equity, fellow students, and a faculty adviser from your school. The College Cohort Club does not seek to replicate the College Cohort Program, but serve as a peer support group to support community-based learning.

At first, the challenge was to figure out how the club would operate since it was, in a way, a smaller version of the larger cohort with many different students who might not even have any experiences or strategies for their college or future educational plans.

To deal with this challenge, I sought ideas for workshops and discussion topics from cohort and non-cohort students attending my high school to ensure that we were focused on identifying localized and specific topics to what students in our high school wanted to learn. The next challenge was advertising the club and garnering interest. I must admit that I was apprehensive about this process and nervous about manning a table, answering questions, and distributing information at our club fair. But, it was fortuitous that there was a club fair already planned for showcasing all of the activities at my high school.

Through the club fair, our College Cohort Club was able to gain interested members while also giving others the opportunity to receive the help, information, and support they needed. The implementation of the club not only spread awareness of the program, but allowed more students with varying backgrounds, situations, busy schedules, and ways of learning, to meet in a less stressed and group-oriented environment.

We had an amazing first meeting where students met during lunch to discuss their needs, share ideas, and collaborate on the direction of our club and ways through which we could best support students throughout our high school. While the cohort encourages students to “Own the process” in pursuing leadership and service, starting a College Cohort Club at my high school is more than just leadership and service, it is an opportunity to share the amazing information I have learned since joining the College Planning Cohort Program as a middle school student.