This article was originally written for, now a part of

Find a Mentor

A huge part of creating this support network is the act of finding a mentor. Mentors are adults who can guide you with wisdom and understanding. You could have one or many mentors.

To find one, look at the activities you do in school, through a religious organization, within your community, through an internship, on a sports team, etc. Is there an adult in one of these organizations—a coach, a teacher, a student adviser, a priest or imam, or a community member—with whom you feel connected? Someone you feel you could talk to in a pinch and count on receiving good advice? Someone whose academic or professional paths you admire?

Seek out this person, and let her know that you are interested in going to college; ask if it would be possible for you to ask her questions from time to time, or to go to her for help with certain tasks.  For the most part, people are honored to be asked for help and will be eager to assist an ambitious young person whenever possible.“Mentors are adults who can guide you with wisdom and understanding.”

Work With Your Mentor

It’s important to keep in mind what a mentor can and cannot do for you. For instance, a mentor cannot give you the answers to your homework, give you money (unless you have a job working for this person), or write your college essays for you.

Though a mentor can help you study for tests, apply for scholarships, and edit your essays, ultimately your work—and this process as a whole—must be your own. Your mentor’s job is to help you make yourself the best young adult you can be.

Get School Support

You also should seek help from the guidance counselor at your school. In most high schools, you will be assigned a counselor who will help you through the process of accumulating credits and applying to colleges. Make sure your counselor knows who you are! Go in to ask questions, do not skip meetings, and keep your counselor aware of your plans so that he can help with each step.

If you find that your guidance counselor is unhelpful or discouraging, find out if there is another counselor to whom you can speak, or talk to a trusted teacher or another faculty member and explain your concerns. School staff and community members are eager to support you; they’re just waiting for you to ask.

Find a College Access Program

You also can seek out support from various national and local college access organizations and programs. These organizations provide services such as college admissions advise, financial aid advice (helping you apply for the FAFSA or for scholarships), mentoring, internships, and even support once you are in college. There may be a reputable college access program in your town.

To locate a college access program near you, browse our list of national, regional and state programs below. It’s not a complete list, but it will point you in the right direction.

National Support Programs

Ask your school guidance counselor if your school participates in any college access programs, like a TRIO program (Upward Bound, Talent Search, Student Support Services, Educational Opportunity Centers, the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program), GEAR UP, National College Advising Corp, College Summit or Project GRAD.

Call the Council for Opportunity in Education at (202) 347-7430 for help locating a TRIO program in your area.

The College Place

The MoveED Directory
Brand new & improved! A searchable and dynamic online database of college access programs serving students around the country.

Communities in Schools
Select your state to find a program near you.

College For Every Student


The Posse Foundation
Sites in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York and Washington, D.C.

Net Literacy

Financial Aid

College Goal Sunday
Search for a financial aid workshop location in your area.

Education Finance Council

State Support Programs


Blueprints College Access Initiative


Success Center (Anchorage)
Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education


University of Arkansas’ College Access Initiative


The College Place
College Track (Los Angeles)
First Graduate (San Francisco)
Reality Changers (San Diego)
Cash for College Workshops
Single Stop


The College Place
Let’s Get Ready


College in Colorado


Take Stock in Children
Single Stop


WIA Youth Program


Illinois Student Assistance Commission
Center for Economic Progress
Chicago Scholars
After School Matters (Chicago)
Horizons for Youth (Chicago)
Alternative Schools Network Programs (Chicago)
BUILD (Chicago)
Chicago Lights
Youth Guidance (Chicago)


Student Financial Aid
Center for Leadership Development (Central Indiana)
Learn More Indiana College Mentoring
Trip to College
Homework Hotline for Math and Science


Iowa College Student Aid Commission
Iowa College Access Network


Kauffman Scholars (Kansas City)
The Kansas Board of Regents


Single Stop


Let’s Get Ready


Higher Achievement (5th-8th graders in Baltimore)
Junior Achievement of Greater Washington


Let’s Get Ready
Single Stop


Michigan Student Aid
Michigan College Access Portal


Get Ready for College
Minnesota College Goal (FAFSA workshops)
Ready Set Go
College Possible (Twin Cities)


Show Me to College
Missouri Department of Higher Education
St. Louis Graduates
Kauffman Scholars (Kansas City)


EducationQuest Foundation
Career Connections
Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education
College Possible (Omaha)


GoToCollege Nevada Events

New Hampshire

Center for College Planning Events

New Jersey

New Jersey Needs You
Let’s Get Ready
Single Stop

New Mexico

Single Stop
GEAR UP New Mexico
Futures for Children (American Indian students)

New York

New York Needs You (New York City region)
Let’s Get Ready
Single Stop
Club Amigas/Mentoring Latinas (New York City)

North Carolina

College Foundation of North Carolina

North Dakota

North Dakota University System


Ohio Means Success
College Now (Greater Cleveland)
Esperanza (Hispanic students of Greater Cleveland)
Cincinnati Youth Collaborative (Cincinnati)
I Know I Can (Columbus)


Oklahoma College Assistance Program
OK College Start


The College Place
NELA Center for Student Success
College Possible


Let’s Get Ready
Higher Achievement (5th-8th graders in Pittsburgh)


Generation Texas


Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority Events


Vermont Student Assistance Corp. Workshops/Events
VSAC Outreach Counselors
College Pathways Events


The College Place
GEAR UP Virginia
Higher Achievement (5th-8th graders in Alexandria and Richmond)
Junior Achievement of Greater Washington


NELA Center for Student Success
College Success Foundation

Washington, DC

District of Columbia College Access Program
College Bound
Capital Partners for Education
College Success Foundation
Community Club
For Love of Children
Higher Achievement (5th-8th graders)
Junior Achievement of Greater Washington
Youth Leadership Foundation
New Futures
College & Career Connections

West Virginia

For Love of Children


Higher Educational Aids Board
College Possible (Milwaukee)

Know of a program that should be on our list? Contact us to let us know.