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  • Exploring College

    For the 2020-2021 academic year, all Exploring College programming will take place entirely virtually due to COVID-19. Read more below under “Exploring College Programming” to learn about our transition to online learning.

    Exploring College is a four-year enrichment program designed to support and prepare high school students for college admission and general life after high school. The program encourages collegiate aspirations and aims to improve college readiness among its participants, many of whom will be first-generation students and/or come from low-income backgrounds, and to increase the number of those students who attend college. In keeping with the mission of the Vassar Education Collaboration, Exploring College also aims to create a community of learners which includes both Vassar students and students from Dutchess County public schools–with a focus on Poughkeepsie High School (Vassar’s nearest neighboring school) and Arlington High School. Our programming meets 3 days a week and focuses on creating meaningful and supportive relationships between Vassar mentors and high school students through one-on-one tutoring, college preparation workshops, community building activities and extracurricular projects.

    We invite students from all grades and levels of academic achievement to join us, including students who are not sure what their plans are after high school. We work to create programming based on the interests and needs of our students.

    Though we meet three days a week, students are not required to attend all three days. We understand that high schoolers are busy and have many extracurricular commitments, so we would like our program to be accessible at whatever level our students desire. We also offer other opportunities for students to be involved with Exploring College, including individual tutoring and one-time events. Students can indicate which aspect of programming they are interested in on their application. See below for more information on each aspect of our programming and how to get involved!

    Exploring College Programming:

    As mentioned previously, our program transitioned to an online format midway through Spring of 2020 and will continue to be online until it is safe to meet in person again. We recognize that online learning presents many additional challenges for students and instructors alike. We are committed to constantly learning and improving our programming by exploring different online platforms, attending instructor trainings, and communicating with the school district.

    The main platform for our online programming is Zoom. Read our Online Safety Protocols to learn more about the ways we prioritize student safety online and utilize these different platforms.

    Spring Programming

    Our program meets on Wednesdays from Wednesdays from 3:30pm-5:00pm, Thursdays from 7:30pm-8:30pm, and Fridays from 3:30pm-5:00pm.. Each day has a different programming format and focus. We may also schedule additional programming during other days of the week based on student desire and mentor availability. We are always open to hearing what our students would like to do—so feel free to send us your ideas by emailing

    On Wednesdays, we offer readiness workshops to prepare students for life after high school. Example topics of workshops we have provided in the past include “Navigating Financial Aid,” “Writing the College Essay,” and “The Guide to Time Management.” Workshops provide information on the college process, tips for college life, and useful skills for post-high school life, regardless of whether students decide to pursue college. Workshops are led by Vassar mentors and include interactive activities to engage with the material. Workshop topics are informed by student interest and need. We allow students to submit requests for topics at any time!

    On Fridays, we offer “Community Building” programming, where students are able to get to know each other and mentors a bit better while participating in fun activities. Our intention is to provide students with a space to de-stress from school and build relationships within the program community. Examples of community building activities include a robotics project, a self care day, cookie decorating, and Among Us tournaments. These activities can also be suggested and developed by students!

    On Thursdays, we offer homework sessions which are designed to serve as a space for students to focus on their assignments and complete academic work. We know that working from home can make it very challenging to get work done and stay self-motivated, so homework sessions provide both accountability and extra academic support if needed. At the beginning of each session, everyone shares what they plan to work on over the next hour and what they hope to accomplish. Then, we all work silently together while still on the video call for the next hour. At the end of the session, we regroup and each person shares whether they met their goals and what they still have left to do. Students can also work one-on-one with a mentor in a break out room during these sessions if they have a specific assignment they would like help with (like editing an essay, working through math problems, etc.). We ran these sessions in the spring semester and during our summer intensive and they proved to be popular and useful for students.


    The main feature of our organization is to establish one-on-one mentorships between high school students and current college students. Tutoring is built into our regular programming, as described above, but we also work to make this service available outside of regular programming. We are happy to schedule individual tutoring sessions according to the needs and availability of any student, even if they do not attend our other offerings. If you are only interested in our tutoring option, you can fill out this specific application.

    Exploring College Summer Intensive

    In addition to our programming during the school year, we also offer a three-week summer program. Typically this is a residential program on Vassar’s campus, but will be held virtually this summer (2021) due to COVID-19. In this program, students get a closer look into college life by attending a course taught by a Vassar professor, participating in an academic project, and working closely with current college students who serve as mentors. The theme for 2021 is “Exploring Climate.” Follow the link to our full page about the summer program for more information. Read more and apply.

    Interested in Applying?

    We would love to have you! We are currently accepting students in grades 9-12.

    As mentioned, students are welcome to participate in our program based on their availability/interest and are not required to attend all sessions. Regardless of how involved students would like to be, all students must fill out the initial application below.

    We accept applications on a rolling basis and will contact you once we review yours. In order to formally join our program, you will virtually meet with our Program Manager, Alexandra Hatch, to talk more in depth about the program and then will need to fill out our official student and parent forms. If you have any questions about our program, please contact Alexandra Hatch at

    General Application Form

    If you are only interested in our tutoring option, you can fill out this specific application.

    Information for Vassar Students

    Vassar students interested in volunteering or work-study opportunities through Exploring College should have an interest in education, college readiness and/or high school tutoring. In addition to work-study and volunteer opportunities, students may also sign-up for credit as part of Community Engaged Learning. Participants will be responsible for planning community building activities, designing and presenting workshops, organizing collaborations with Vassar organizations and developing other academically-related programming for high school students. If you are interested in getting involved with EC, please fill out the interest survey below:

    Volunteer Interest Form


    Please email Program Manager, Alexandra Hatch at

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