Connecticut College partners with Opportunity Network to broaden access for underserved students
Connecticut College and The Opportunity Network (OppNet) have launched a partnership designed to provide access to college and career success to high-achieving, underrepresented New York City public school students.
The College is the first institution in New England, the second nationally, to establish an official partnership with OppNet. Martha Merrill, Connecticut College’s dean of admission and financial aid, says the partnership benefits the students and the College.
“Without this connection, we might never have had these students in our prospect or applicant pool. We look forward to further enhancing our relationship and welcoming more OppNet students to Connecticut College in the coming years,” Merrill said.
OppNet presents colleges with a pool of applicants who have excelled in the New York City public school system – while also participating in workshops, internships and other initiatives designed to prepare them for college success.
Before entering the formal partnership, Connecticut College was one of several selective schools that OppNet routinely encouraged students to consider. The new agreement aims to increase the number of OppNet high school students who are invited to Connecticut College for Explore Weekend, a multicultural leadership program for high school seniors from underrepresented groups and those committed to diversity issues. In addition, College admission and financial aid staff will work with OppNet counselors to set clear admissions guidelines, and enrolled students will receive additional counseling and mentoring on campus to smooth the transition into college.
OppNet founder and CEO Jessica Pliska praised the College for launching the partnership and ensuring opportunities for worthy students.
“This partnership ensures that our students will get the guidance they need from the moment they begin considering Connecticut College until the day they accept their diplomas and join the robust alumni network,” Pliska said. “At the same time, Connecticut College gains access to some of the best and brightest students in New York City.”
Moustafa Ndiaye ’17 is one of seven OppNet students currently enrolled at Connecticut College. OppNet helped him identify potential schools and traveled with him on college tours. Ndiaye is now very happy at Connecticut College, where he majors in computer science.
“OppNet and Connecticut College have changed my life in a dramatic way,” Ndiaye says. “OppNet introduced me to the real world that I never knew existed and my experience at Conn has been amazing and rewarding.”
The OppNet partnership is the latest achievement in Connecticut College’s efforts to enhance its open, inclusive and diverse community. In recent years, the College has entered into partnerships with the Posse Foundation and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, and launched its own signature Science Leaders Program. Beyond its New London campus, the College partners in cities throughout the country with additional community-based organizations that help prepare and support students to attend and excel in college.