No sooner had I pressed the call button, than Oge’s brilliant smile lit up my screen. She radiated confidence and bliss, and I found myself grinning right alongside her as she detailed her summer agenda. As a rising sophomore at the College of William and Mary (WM), Ogechukwu Okoli is already knee-deep in lab research investigating social trends, including everything from implicit bias in in-group and out-group members to the consistency and severity of school-assigned punishments.
Beginning lab work fresh out of her first year is an opportunity Oge attributes to CollegePoint and its role in helping her decide on WM. Her story begins with a personalized postcard and call from CollegePoint, explaining its services and providing helpful links. At first, Oge was skeptical — the program almost seemed too good to be true — but after some research, she couldn’t contain her excitement.
“When I saw the stats and the testimonials from the students they had helped… learning about CollegePoint and the services it offered got me excited,” explained Oge.
CollegePoint was formed in 2014 and is dedicated to supporting high-achieving, low- and moderate- income students to navigate the college application, financial aid, and decision process. CollegePoint has partnered with ACT, College Advising Corps, College Board, College Possible, Matriculate, ScholarMatch, and other organizations to help provide students with a plethora of resources from which to choose and learn.
In Oge’s case, she was originally all about moving far from her home in Virginia. Her sights were set on Arizona State (ASU) or Florida State (FSU), and she wasn’t in the business of considering anything else until a grant opportunity arose that allowed her to apply for free to schools in Virginia. With the encouragement of her CollegePoint advisor, Michael, Oge applied to the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, VA, about an hour away from her hometown. Even after her acceptance, Oge still had her heart set on ASU, until WM offered her a full-ride.
“I called Michael and he just sat me down and we talked through why I wanted to go to ASU and why I didn’t want to go to William and Mary. And I just remember my only argument really being ASU had a good football team.”
During that long phone call, Michael recommended Oge visit WM to get a feel for the campus. She heeded his advice and drove over on a Friday, only to be surprised by how much she loved it.
“[Michael] was so right… when I first came to the school I was starstruck by all the beautiful brick, it felt like a college campus, it was so homey… I picked the best day to come too because they were having a really big parade on the quad and they had snow cones and a bouncy house. On the terrace, they had a bike that made smoothies. And the people were so kind.”
Soon after, Oge made her decision to attend WM, a choice that she attributes to CollegePoint and her advisor.
“I really believe CollegePoint is all about timing, it came at the right time and place to help me make the perfect decision. I’m so happy at William and Mary, it’s ridiculous.”
A couple of months into her freshman year, Oge was so inspired by the program that she agreed to become a CollegePoint Ambassador for the College of William and Mary. Being an ambassador for a specific college means if CollegePoint has any students interested in her school, Oge can serve as a reference point. In my short time talking with her, I could tell Oge is a brilliant ambassador. Her vibrant, confident, and determined personality shone through and she radiated joy when gushing about CollegePoint’s role in her plans.
“I’m pre-med right now, so I’m hoping to be a doctor, but I want to be an MD/PhD. I want to be a white coat as well as do research, so I’m hoping to work at a university… I definitely give CollegePoint a lot of credit for where I am now because I’m thriving here in a way that I probably couldn’t have thrived anywhere else.”
Even with a bright future ahead of her, Oge was still grounded in an appreciation for the people and opportunities that led her to where she is today. CollegePoint is a remarkable coalition of nonprofits that has helped over 50,000 students to date, and each one has a story as unique as Oge’s.
“I think CollegePoint is really valuable because it pulls from students with different backgrounds, students who go to different schools, from many different sources… it helps you see that maybe we are different, but we’re not too different. Everyone’s nervous about making friends, no one likes the food. Being able to see those universal experiences, it makes a world of difference.”
To learn more about CollegePoint and the services and resources it provides, click here.
Feature image courtesy of CollegePoint