Bottom Line is dedicated to the premise that everyone, regardless of privilege or advantage, should be able to be successful in college. To that end, the organization helps between 3,000 and 5,000 students annually, and these efforts yield tangible results.
Of all the students they help, 78 percent graduate within six years. That might not seem like much until one considers that many of these students go part-time and work part-time to pay their own way. One student remarked that Bottom Line proved that there was someone in the world who cared about her success other than her.
Disadvantaged young people have a much tougher time getting colleges to notice and accept them. Most of the time, they don’t have anything close to the money necessary to go to college, even community college, and a lot of them don’t have the required grades either. They must spend most of their time working to help their families make ends meet. Studies become secondary in importance to just eating and having a roof over their heads. Bottom Line helps students balance their studies with their other activities and shows them the value of doing well in school despite their hardships. The organization provides one-on-one counseling by professional staff members and volunteers who are intimately familiar with the college application process.
Of course, Bottom Line cannot do everything for everyone, even if that is a dream the organization has. In reality, the organization focuses on helping students qualify for and apply to a select group of “target colleges” in New York, Massachusetts and Illinois. Many of the schools on this list are state colleges, which are more cost-effective than expensive private universities, although there are some private institutions on the list. Bottom Line partners with these schools because not only do a large percentage of the students they help choose to attend them but also because the schools themselves need help retaining students.
Bottom Line works both ends of the spectrum to achieve its impressive results. Students involved in the program are 43 percent more likely to graduate than those who are not involved. This success stems from the fact that Bottom Line continues to provide its students support throughout their college tenure. The organization specializes in helping students solve any problems that arise, such as financial aid woes, work-study issues and changing majors.
Bottom Line’s approach to helping students also serves as an example of how to build relationships and networks. By accessing all the Bottom Line has to offer, the students learn how to interact with important people in their lives. By always striving for excellence in its own doings, Bottom Line also imparts a desire in students to do the same. Perhaps most important of all, Bottom Line teaches responsibility and accountability; students who hold themselves accountable show themselves to be trustworthy to their peers, professors and prospective employers down the line. By preparing students for college, Bottom line is also preparing them for the rest of their lives.