BEAM stays involved with students throughout high school, providing personalized mentoring.
In 9th grade, students enter into a personalized advising system. At the beginning of each school year, a student who participates in the advising program meets with his or her advisor to map out goals for the year and to understand when each of those goals requires action. The student takes home their action plan, and we log each student’s goals. The advisor follows up when applications become available and when deadlines are looming, taking the role of an informed parent who ensures their child completes program applications.
The goal of advising and weekly office hours is to provide everything that a supportive and informed family and community would provide them. We offer homework help (necessary because the students’ new high schools often have much more rigorous coursework than their previous middle schools), assistance with selecting and applying to other programs, help navigating the NYC Department of Education bureaucracy, and, in general, absolutely whatever the students need. Our students have the potential to be part of the same ecosystem for developing STEM talent as their more affluent peers, but making this a reality requires not just making them aware of those opportunities, but also helping them with the bureaucracy of applying and finding financial aid, and with overcoming the numerous hurdles that will otherwise show up in their path.
In the early years of high school, we give individualized recommendations for a number of programs ranging from residential summer programs to opportunities for research at the American Museum of Natural History. However, as students enter into 10th, 11th, and 12th grade, the advising system shifts toward a growing focus on preparing for college admissions. Nationally, high schools average just one guidance counselor per 500 students, and so student preparation for college is often reliant on parent involvement. Our mentoring bridges this gap by helping students schedule their SAT Subject Tests (including navigating the complicated fee waiver system) and their SATs. Students can come into our office hours for help studying and to take practice tests. As students enter into 12th grade, they receive help finding supportive colleges that have strong financial aid and then completing their applications.