Let the people we’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with share their own perspectives about the College Excel program.
“College Excel is an individualized, supportive community where you and your friends are all going through similar problems, and you develop a family. No matter the coach, no matter what person you’re talking to, they’re always really caring, and they have great insight. You build trust with them – and the biggest thing for me was being able to trust somebody.”
College Excel Alumnus/New Jersey
“Thanks to the skills I learned at College Excel, I had the confidence to apply to the four year school of my choice. I was accepted and even received a scholarship, something I would have never imagined two years ago, and will be double majoring in Social Work and Art Therapy.”
College Excel Alumna/Oregon
Common Application Essay
It’s my senior year in high school, and I’ve just turned 18-years-old. I love Vermont Academy, the close-knit community, and the friendships I have, but there is something that separates me from everyone else. I’m not ready for college yet. I’m only a few weeks away from graduation, and all of my friends have confirmed their college decisions and are already looking forward to the fall. However, I am in a dilemma. I have the option to attend a couple of schools, neither of which I like, and I know for a fact that my study habits and childish antics will cause all sorts of setbacks if I do so.
My friends, teachers, coaches, and family members question my judgment. Many of them keep saying, “Just go to college next year; stop holding yourself back,” a phrase I hear almost daily. Occasionally, someone will say, “I trust you know what’s best for you; choose your own path.” I wish I had heard this phrase more. I ask myself what I really do want. I’ve lived nearly my entire academic life under the insistent advice of someone else. I’ve struggled with learning difficulties for a great deal of my academic career. Although throughout the years I’ve been able to reduce many of these learning differences, I still have a few poor study habits that are very detrimental to my progress as a student. I’m left with the same dilemma I’ve faced throughout the entirety of senior year: Which path should I take?
Fast-forward eight months, and I’m now at College Excel in Bend, Oregon. I still have the same close-knit relationships with the same important people, but there is something that has changed. I am finally ready for college. Although I will always have areas to work on throughout my life, I have made improvements that have vastly changed who I am as a student and a person. I’ve learned how to manage my priorities in a way that I’ve strived for my entire life. For the first time, I am performing to my fullest potential as a student. I map out a clear plan of action every day to achieve academic success, and I can truly say that I fully comprehend the material better than I ever have. This year has given me insight into a whole new meaning of independence and maturity. I’m far away from my family and am no longer dependent on my parents the way I used to. When I make a mistake, I no longer put blame on someone else to rid myself of guilt. Rather, the responsibility is entirely my own. I’ve also learned how to effectively ask for help in a much healthier and more productive method when I’m in need of it. Most importantly, I’m no longer being pressured to advance on a path I don’t wish to go on. I’ve finally learned to trust my own instincts and follow my own path but to also take the opinions and advice of others into consideration as well.
When I first chose to go to the College Excel program, I assumed it would be a productive experience that would allow me to better myself academically for college and nothing more. I would tell myself, “Just do your work and get out of there,” assuming that to be the only value the upcoming year had in store. The truth is this year has turned out to be a completely different experience than I had bargained for as I’ve discovered new elements about myself and the world that I never knew existed. I never knew what it truly feels like to be empowered to make my own decisions and become more independent day by day. I’ve finally found myself in a place where I’ve chosen the correct path, and I have been able to fully discover a truer and more authentic self that eight months ago I had no idea existed.”
College Excel Alumnus /Vermont
From Wilderness Therapy to College Excel
Transitioning from Wilderness Therapy
Wilderness provided me a support group that shared similar values and goals and gave me the opportunity to check in with that group regularly which was important for my growth. The group provided me support as well as challenged me. Following my wilderness program, College Excel gave me a safe environment to continue to grow and the coaching to help me not get escalated over little things and life’s problems. I learned to check in mentally with myself and not let emotions or problems effect academics and the rest of my life.
My College Excel Experience
The College Excel Program allowed me to tap into the skills that allowed me to be the most successful college student that I could be. One of the most important things I have learned here is how to be a good student academically but also that having fun and a social life is just as important as doing well in school. I was able to practice living out the process of finding a healthy life balance and I have blossomed into a more happy individual.
During my time in the program I have gained more confidence, am in more control and more capable of handling things that come up and feel prepared to go to Washington College in Maryland.
I would recommend College Excel. I would recommend it to any student who is willing to work on themselves and explore themselves. Someone who is not afraid to work hard and make the most of their opportunity and recognizing it is okay to ask for help.
– Carolin G
College Excel Alumna/ DC
“Our son attended the College Excel program after being unsuccessful in college due to learning and mental health issues. The program provides life and academic coaching for young adults that made a huge difference in our son’s life. Additionally, the parent coaching element of the program was crucial for us to learn how to help our son learn to take responsibility for his choices and for us to learn that we didn’t need to rush in and rescue him whenever things didn’t work out. Today, our son is on his own, working and supporting himself, and considers the College Excel staff to be among the most important teachers and mentors in his life.”
Parent of a College Excel alumnus
“Our son spent the year at College Excel after a year in which he struggled at a traditional college in the face of a learning disorder. We couldn’t be more pleased. The coaches are superb, and he made immense progress in his academics, social skills, and self-esteem. And Bend is a treat. For kids that need the kinds of services offered by College Excel, I can’t imagine a better experience. I’m confident that the benefits of this gap year will be felt by our son, not only through the remainder of college but for his entire life.”
Parent of a College Excel alumnus
“We are proud parents of a student that required help navigating life, school, and all that these things entail. These things come naturally for many…but not for our son. With the help of caring, go-the-extra-mile Academic and Student Life Coaches, College Excel made the seemingly impossible become a reality. We are forever grateful for the love and effort College Excel gave to our son.”
Parent of a College Excel alumnus
“College Excel was the perfect program for our family. It provided the right balance of encouraging our daughter’s independence, while supporting her through that process. Additionally, their training and conference call cadence with parents were key to evolving our relationship with her in a more effective manner. College Excel made a positive difference for all of us at critical point in our daughter’s life.”
Parent of a College Excel alumna
“I have been working with College Excel students and staff and have found the experience to be rewarding year in and year out. College Excel students are generally motivated and well engaged in my film courses and enthusiastic about achieving the filmmaking objectives I give them. It has been a pleasure to watch them engage subject matter, work out collaborative challenges, and combine their efforts to create film projects that demonstrate the core objectives of my class, about which they can be proud. Working with them is what gave me the confidence to integrate film projects in my non-College Excel courses. I can also confidently say that College Excel staff are dedicated and caring, both in regards to the students they coach and the instructors with whom they work. They stay in consistent communication with me regarding the progress of their students and demonstrate an authentic desire to see them succeed.”
Associate Professor, Central Oregon Community College
“I have worked with College Excel students and staff in a variety of roles and am continually impressed by the support these professionals provide and the growth these students experience. College Excel is truly committed to helping individuals reinvent themselves regardless of their previous circumstances. Students have access to a comprehensive support system through both College Excel and Central Oregon Community College. I have developed a strong relationship with the College Excel team and truly appreciate the partnership that we have.”
Academic Advisor, COCC