January 1, 2020
Mychal Wynn (Northeastern ’79)

Vision or Clarity? 

As you enter 2020, you must do so with a vision of what you wish to accomplish. However, you must develop clarity as to how you will accomplish your vision, or whether or not you are pursuing the right vision. Each year, many students begin our college planning cohort program with a “Vision” of being offered admission to top colleges and awarded full scholarships. However, far too many students, and parents, lack “Clarity” in their understanding of the work and commitment required to achieve such a vision. Additionally, students and parents must reassess whether or not they have the ‘right’ vision. Is the vision to get into Harvard, or to get into a great college with a full scholarship? Is the vision to be a ‘good’ student or to be an ‘exceptional’ student? We are so pleased in regard to the clarity provided by our college panelists who shared their experiences at their respective institutions and the clarity in which they engaged in their college research and how they arrived at their final college choice.

College Panel 

On Saturday, December 21, 2019, we hosted the Turner Chapel AME Church Education Ministry’s 9th Annual College Panel. Appearing on the panel were Turner Chapel AME Cohort and Crossroads for Teens Cohort students, Justin Matthews (Dillard), Avery Johnson (Georgia State), Nina Shack (Middle Tennessee State), Akilah Williams (North Carolina A&T), Malathi Reddy and Landon Wade (Northeastern), Whitney Williams (Spelman College), Summer Ford (University of Georgia,) Kimberly Hadaway and Loren Tsang (Williams College), and Kyrah Felder (Xavier University of Louisiana). Collectively, cohort students are attending college with nearly $1 million in scholarships, including presidential scholarships to Northeastern and Xavier, the $50,000 MC Lyte Hip Hop Sisters Scholarship, and full scholarships to Dillard and Williams College. The panel provided an inspiration for current cohort students and their parents. Video clips from the panel discussion will be posted to our website in the coming weeks.

Full Scholarships!

While many high school seniors are awaiting college admission decisions, two of our cohort students had a dream Christmas. On December 1, Grayson High School senior and Atlanta-area Cohort student, Bre’an Moore, received a congratulatory email from Carleton College, ranked #7 on the 2020 US News and World Reports Liberal Arts College Rankings, offering her admission and a scholarship valued at $273,740 over 4 years. Bre’an had only joined our Atlanta-area Cohort in September, through the encouragement of her Godmother, Juanita Wade of Wade Marketing and Consulting. Bre’an was just in time to apply to the QuestBridge Program where she was eventually selected as a QuestBridge College Match Finalist. After attending the Taste of Carleton College Fly-In Program (Note: Pictured 5th from the left on the Taste of Carleton webpage is former cohort and current Williams College student, Loren Tsang, who attended the program last year) the top ranked liberal arts college rose to the top of her list ahead of the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania.

Bre’an notes, “Through the college research conducted in the cohort, I discovered that the liberal arts college experience is ideal for me. I will have the opportunity to explore a broad range of topics and interests prior to deciding on a major. Carleton is a great place and felt like the right fit to spend the next four years of my life. If you would have told me in September, when I joined the cohort, that this is where my life would be in December, I would not have believed you!”

On December 16, St. Petersburg High School and Pinellas County Schools Cohort student, Sydney Soskin, logged into the University of Chicago’s student portal to check the status of her Early Decision Application. Sydney screamed and burst into tears when she read the words, “Congratulations! It is my pleasure to inform you that you have been admitted to the University of Chicago’s Class of 2024.” Sydney’s full scholarship financial aid award is valued at over $310,000 over 4 years. Sydney joined our Pinellas County Schools Cohort as a high junior at the urging of a friend. Having lived in Chicago as a child, top ranked UChicago has always been Sydney’s top choice college. Through the Summer Programs activity, Sydney identified and applied to the Medical Ethics Summer Immersion Program at UChicago, where she spent the summer following her junior year and built relationships with professors and admissions personnel. 

“Oh My God! I can’t believe it. Due to problems at my school, I missed the QuestBridge deadline and was devastated. However, Mr. and Mrs. Wynn pulled me together and kept me focused on developing a solid college list and game plan. They helped me with my Common Application and UChicago Supplemental essays, guided me in strengthening my academic résumé, reviewed my Common Application, and supported me in developing the strongest possible application for UChicago. They assured me that Early Decision was my best chance of being offered admission and that I would be pleased with the financial aid award that UChicago would offer. If I did not get in, we had a back-up plan for the Elon University Odyssey Program and Northeastern University Torch Scholars Program. When I read the letter in my student account, I called my mom and I took a screen shot and sent it to Mrs. Wynn. I still cannot stop crying. This is unbelievable.”

Click here to read the full article…
In our May newsletter, we will provide a full listing of our 2019/20 cohort students and the colleges to which they plan to attend.

Cohort Alumni

Congratulations to cohort students who made the Dean’s List: 

  • Akilah Williams (North Carolina A&T Honors Program)
  • Alana Fulmore (Lander University)
  • Aleah Black (Winston-Salem State Nursing Program)
  • Avery Johnson (Georgia State)
  • Aurora Valadez (Florence Darlington Tech)
  • Camryn Brown (Clemson)
  • Corey Wilson (Claflin University Honors College)
  • Darla Willis (Arizona State)
  • Dawayna Burgess (Claflin University Honors College)
  • Jordan Barker (Tennessee State)
  • Jordan Bolds (University of Central Florida)
  • Kyrah Felder (Xavier University of Louisiana)
  • Kristen Starks (University of Richmond)
  • LaTajah Alford (Claflin University Honors College)
  • Malathi Reddy (Northeastern University Honors Program)
  • Summer Ford (University of Georgia)
  • Whitney Williams (Spelman College Honors Program)
  • Zaria Cameron (Claflin University Honors College)

Summer Programs

Congratulations to Atlanta-area Cohort students who have been accepted into the following summer programs: 

Grades 9 – 11

The January module includes a self-assessment of first semester accomplishments and a self-evaluation of each student’s competitiveness as a college applicant based on their achievements to date. High school juniors in the 2019/20 9-11th Grade Classroom have been moved into our 2019/20 High School Junior Classroom (2nd Semester) where the January – May modules for high school juniors are focused on finalizing a College Application Plan prior to the end of the school year.

As a result of an enthusiastic and informative presentation by high school counselor, Mrs. Cathy Heatly, over 65 Lakewood High School juniors signed up for our Pinellas County Schools Cohort. We will also be welcoming a cohort of high school juniors at Lake City Early College High School in Florence County School District 3.

January Discussion Topics

Grades 9 – 11: Bring copies of your Common Application Table. Be prepared to discuss your self-assessment of your first semester performance and your goals for becoming an even more competitive college applicant. Also bring your narrative responses to the 5 Guiding Questions for the January Module – Self-Assessment and Setting Goals:

  1. Am I able to fully complete the activities section of the Common Application with meaningful activities?
  2. Do I have leadership roles across the majority of my activities?
  3. Am I able to fully complete the honors/awards section of the Common Application?
  4. Based on my responses to questions 1 – 3, what type of goals do I need to set or actions I need to take to become the most competitive college applicant?
  5. What were my accomplishments, or updates to my résumé as a result of my first semester performance?
  6. After reviewing my résumé, and evaluating the strengths/weaknesses of my Common Application, what type of goals do I need to set for the second semester?

Attention Parents

At our January cohort meetings, we plan to have conversations with students and parents (particularly juniors) about the importance of test scores and how to integrate test prep into the normal course of schooling. We encourage parents of high school juniors to review Module 1: Unit 5 “Raising Test Scores,” with their students.

Increasing Test Scores

High school juniors participating in our program will be expected to take a full length section of their test of choice (i.e., SAT or ACT), and be prepared to share their scores at each of our monthly meetings through May. Students will also be expected to set up a test prep routine and access the free tools on the ACT or CollegeBoard (SAT) website.

Why Focus on Test Scores?

While over 1,000 colleges are now ‘test optional,’ the vast majority of academic scholarships are based on grades and test scores. For lower income students, the most direct pathway to a full college scholarship is being offered admission into a top college with a need-based and ‘no loans’ financial aid policy (e.g., Princeton, Yale, Williams, Amherst, Bowdoin, Carleton, Northwestern, Duke, Stanford, etc.). These tend to be among the most selective colleges in the country where median test scores are 1500+ on the SAT and 33+ on the ACT. However, less selective schools offer merit-based scholarships for students with SAT scores of 1200+ and ACT scores of 25+. Consequently, it you have a conflict with your extracurricular activities, it is advisable to reduce the amount of time devoted to activities and to commit consistent effort, over the course of several months to test prep and work closely with teachers/tutors to increase your SAT or ACT scores.

Why Focus on One Test?

After taking a full length practice test for both exams (i.e., SAT and ACT), determine which exam you have the best chance of achieving the highest scores and commit to preparing for that exam. Over the course of many years, our students who have achieved scholarship qualifying test scores did so on 2 sittings for one exam—either the SAT or the SAT. Most of our students took their first exam in January or February of their junior year of high school; reviewed their scores with their subject-area teachers; engaged in test prep over the course of several months; and earned their highest scores (SAT 1400+; ACT 30+) on the June or July exam prior to entering their senior year of high school.

Why Focus on the ACT?

We believe in using the ACT as a tool for increasing your academic achievement in your core subjects, as you increase your test scores with a goal of achieving your highest test scores by June of your junior year of high school. However, if your high school supports the SAT, then you must consider where you will receive your best test prep support. Additionally, there are many resources for increasing SAT scores, beginning with the College Board website. However, for the majority of students, the ACT has proven to have strategic advantages over the SAT, such as:

  • When submitting SAT scores, many colleges also require that students take and submit SAT Subject Test Scores in two of more subject-areas. Typically, this is not required when submitting ACT scores. (Refer to Chapter 7: Standardized Testing/Exit Exams, pp. 118-127.)
  • The ACT is content-based and tests what you should have learned in high school. Consequently, you should be able to close any knowledge gaps by seeking help from your high school teachers.
  • The ACT has a collection of free test prep tools, including the ACT Academy.
  • While the SAT has changed many times over the years, the ACT has remained consistent from year-to-year.
  • The ACT has predictable and consistent structure from year-to-year, so it stands to reason that you could develop a test-taking strategy in the 9th grade, consistently work to master the ACT subject-area content throughout high school, and earn a top score as a high school junior or senior.
  • The ACT is straight forward in its language and wording of questions.
  • The SAT has been shrouded in controversy for being culturally and socioeconomically biased, “These four charts show how the SAT favors rich, educated families,” “Race gaps in SAT scores highlight inequality and hinder upward mobility.”

The bottomline…choose the test to focus your test prep efforts with a goal of achieving your highest test scores by June/July of your junior year of high school.

Mark Your Calendar


Sunday, January 5, 2020: United Ghana Christian Church Cohort (10:00 am – 12:30 pm).

Friday, January 10, 2020: Lake City High School Juniors Cohort (9:00 am – 2:30 pm). Students will be excused from class to the Lake City High School College Corner. Seniors will be seen by appointment.

Saturday, January 11, 2020: ASA Guide Right Cohort Fortis College (9:00 am).

Saturday, January 11, 2020: Guilford County Schools Cohort: Seniors (9:00 am – Noon); Juniors (Noon – 3:00 pm). Location: GTCC Greensboro Campus

Sunday, January 12, 2020: The Next Episode: Teen Bible Student/College Planning Session for high school juniors and seniors. Turner Chapel AME Church • Marietta, GA Boardroom (9:30 am – 11:30 am).

Sunday, January 12, 2020: Atlanta-area Cohort: Turner Chapel AME Church • Marietta, GA (11:30 am – 12:45 pm).

Sunday, January 12, 2020: Crossroads for Teens Cohort grades 9 – 12. Johnson Ferry Baptist Church • Marietta, GA (3:00 pm – 4:30 pm).

Saturday, January 25, 2020: ASA Guide Right Cohort Fortis College (9:00 am).

Saturday, January 25, 2020: Pinellas County Schools Middle School Cohort grades 6 – 8. Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School Media Center • 3901 22nd Ave. S • St. Petersburg, FL (9:30 am – 11:30 am). 

Saturday, January 25, 2020: Pinellas County Schools High School Cohort grades 9 – 12. Lakewood High School Media Center • 1400 54th Ave, S • St. Petersburg, FL (1:00 pm – 4:00 pm). All Lakewood High School juniors who signed up at the information session are expected to attend.

Attention High School Juniors – Join a Cohort: Register Now


Our online registration is only open to students interested in joining an Atlanta-area Cohort or working independently through our online classroom. Students participating in a school district or community partner should register with their program facilitator.

Students in Guilford County Schools, Florence County School District 3, and Pinellas County Schools must contact your school district representative.

New Students who will be joining our Atlanta-area Cohort or participating in our online program, can register at the following links:

Click here to learn more about our cohorts and other programs…