As Daesy Plascencia prepares to return to Mount Mary College in the fall for her sophomore year, she plans to take her coach with her. Plascencia was in the inaugural class of Admission Possible Milwaukee and is living proof that college admission is possible, with enough help and support. She is the first in her family to attend college.
Plascencia graduated in 2010 from St. Joan Antida High School, one of Admission Possible Milwaukee’s partner schools. Ninety-five percent of the seniors who participated in the two-year high school program were accepted to at least one college, according to the organization.
Founded in 2000, Admission Possible is a non-profit organization that provides students from low-income families with coaching and support to get into college and earn a degree.
Admission Possible Milwaukee was founded in 2008, serving 60 high school juniors, including Plascencia. The organization will serve 350 students in fall 2011. Students get two hours of coaching twice a week.
Plascencia’s high school coaches helped her prepare for the ACT and apply for college admission and scholarships. She said that she had no idea how to prepare for the test, and the help she received from her senior coach, Erica Harwell, was invaluable. Harwell is also Plascencia’s current college coach.
“She is like one of us,” said Plascencia. “I could always text her, email her and Facebook her. She was always there for me.” College coaches at Admission Possible Milwaukee serve 500 students in total via email, phone and social media.
Michael Molzberger, a junior coach at Admission Possible Milwaukee, said that the availability of the coach is an important aspect of the program. “We do develop personal relationship with the students,” he said.
During the school year, Plascencia sought Harwell’s help proofreading essays, connecting with campus resources and supporting her efforts to obtain financial aid. Plascencia received a Midtown Scholarship from Mount Mary, which covers her tuition and fees.
Admission Possible Milwaukee operates in seven high schools: Alexander Hamilton High School, International Peace Academy, Milwaukee School of Languages, Northwest Secondary School, Riverside University High School, Saint Joan Antida High School and South Division High School.
The application process begins sophomore year. Students are required to be income-eligible, complete the application process, maintain a GPA of 2.0 and higher and be highly motivated to pursue higher education in the college. According to Admission Possible Milwaukee, students report an average annual family income of less than $23,000.
“The hardest part is that we can’t serve as many students as I know who want to be in the program. We have to turn students away, and I hate that,” said Kate Lundeen, executive director of Admission Possible Milwaukee. “I’m always hoping we can grow even faster.”
In the upcoming year, Plascencia, a Spanish and biology major, plans to play soccer and provide campus tours for the admissions office. Her younger sister will start Admission Possible in the fall. “Admission Possible should be operated at all of the schools in Milwaukee,” said Plascencia. “Then more students are more likely to go to the college.”