what makes us different
What differentiates DTS from other college access and success programs is the year-round holistic support and resources that students receive from their mentors and peers beginning the end of 8th grade through college graduation to career placement for students who commit to the program. When the wellness of the whole child is considered and supported, including his background, culture and personal circumstances, and experiences, we are able to achieve 100% high school graduation, 100% college matriculation, and 100% college graduation.
Our program is based on five interwoven touchpoints that build upon one another.
1. Health and Wellness
A strong foundation of personal physical and mental health is vital to maintain academic achievement levels and hone the executive functioning skills necessary to succeed in college and in life. Implemented and overseen by our Health and Wellness Director, our Wellness education and practice begins the summer before ninth grade in the areas of fitness, stillness, nutrition, self-care, hygiene, body awareness, sex education, psychological exploration, and mental wellbeing. We consistently address stress, anxiety, family trauma and other threats to life success. And because the students form a relationship with the Director in the classroom setting first, she is able to provide meaningful, individual mental health counseling for all students. We have erased both the stigma of therapy and the wait time to see a practitioner.
2. Academic Achievement
Our rigorous academic curriculum begins the summer before ninth grade during our Bridge to High School program. We remediate academic deficits and then continue to meet students at their respective academic levels throughout the next four years. We emphasize literacy and mathematics, and we focus heavily on cultivating strong study skills. Metacognition, time management, organization, test anxiety, study environment, note-taking, test preparation, active reading, and lifestyle improvement are addressed on a regular basis.
DTS provides a safe, nurturing place for students to practice addressing academic obstacles, make decisions, communicate effectively, and ask for help when needed. Our students discover that they have the tenacity to achieve their academic goals and the ability to tap their internal resources to approach the external world in a healthy and productive manner. The result is healthy, competent, confident scholars who are able to succeed in college and create fulfilling lives for themselves.
3. College Preparation and Completion
From day one, our students inhabit a College-Going Culture, in which course selection, extracurricular activities, time management, and myriad other facets of high school life are acknowledged as steps on the path to college. DTS students at every level have consistent opportunities to interact with, and learn from, one another. DTS provides individual college counseling, SAT/ACT test preparation, individual college application, and financial aid application assistance, a two-week summer College Application Boot Camp, local college campus visits, fly outs to non-local campuses, and visits from college admissions representatives. Our full-time College Access and Success Counselor meets with all students on a one-on-one basis beginning in ninth grade and continuing throughout high school on a graduating scale. She monitors students’ course selection, grades and study plans, and helps place students in their best-fit schools, where they will receive adequate financial aid and appropriate academic and social support.
DTS continues its support throughout college to ensure persistence. Staff members conduct weekly one-on-one phone check-ins, identify local support systems on each campus, and schedules in-person meetings and group outings during semester breaks.
4. Family Engagement
Nearly all DTS students will be the first in their families to attend college, and most are members of immigrant families in which college preparation and the college experience itself feel foreign. Students perform better academically and acclimate more comfortably to their college environment when they have their families’ understanding and support. From stress-reduction workshops with our Health and Wellness Director, to college information programs and tours, to financial literacy education, to individual conferences with DTS staff members, we foster a supportive parent peer network, address parents’ concerns about their college-bound students, and facilitate an essential parent-student connection.
5. Career Development
Our career development programming begins in high school with a focus on career exposure. To this end, students visit companies in Los Angeles and meet with people in different departments of a single corporation. Students see first hand the myriad of careers one can enter after obtaining a college degree. They also gain a better understanding of what skills and schooling are required to enter a particular field. The annual field trips and guest speakers broaden and deepen students’ awareness of career possibilities.
Once students are in college, we move from job awareness to job readiness. College students begin building the skills they need to transition to the career world through workshops and assigned tasks. In conjunction with Future Map, our program partner, students participate in sessions focused on essentials such as resume creation and refinement, network building, and preparing for interviews. Students wanting more support are paired with career coaches who meet students where they are and help them get where they want to go. Additionally, college students are required to secure summer work or internships that provide practical career experience. This allows students to develop both their professional skills and their networks before graduation.