New York University this week is hosting College Horizons, the nation’s premiere college admissions workshop for Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian high school students. The week-long program brings 100 high school sophomores and juniors from across the nation to New York City and represents the largest gathering of Native youth on the NYU campus in recent history. This week’s program features students from 49 tribal nations and 22 states to NYU’s Manhattan campus.
Nationwide, Native American students are among the most underserved and underrepresented in higher education, with college acceptance and completion rates trailing far behind the national average. However, nearly all high school students who participate in College Horizons programs are admitted to four-year colleges and universities and one-third enter the most selective colleges in the country.
“As a small town Navajo girl, College Horizons told me I could go anywhere,” said Jordan Johnson, an NYU sophomore and an alumna of the College Horizons program from the Navajo Nation in New Mexico who is serving as an intern in this year’s program. “And now, as a current NYU student, I wish to share this same message with the possibly scared, possibly nervous, but mostly hopeful young minds of College Horizons.”
Shawn Abbott, NYU's assistant vice president and dean of admissions, said, “NYU has partnered with College Horizons since 2006, sending our admission officers to its annual program each year, so it is an honor to bring these students to Greenwich Village for what is the largest gathering of Native high school students at NYU in recent history.”
NYU has a historic connection to the Native American community. Its founder, Albert Gallatin, treasury secretary under Presidents James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, was also a scholar of Native American languages and culture. Gallatin has been called “the father of American ethnology” and authored two Native American books: “A Table of Indian Languages of the United States” in 1826 and “Synopsis of the Indian Tribes of North America” in 1836.
College Horizons is a Native-led, nationally recognized non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and facilitate higher education among Native youth. In addition to NYU, College Horizons partners with more than 70 colleges, universities, and educational organizations and sends Native educators and college admissions professionals from across the country to work one-on-one with high school and college students.
“College Horizons was founded on the premise that every year, there are hundreds of Native students throughout the country who are high-achieving members of their school’s community but who are in the dark about their college options,” said Carmen Lopez, executive director of College Horizons and a citizen of the Navajo Nation.
“Due to a lack of resources and little access to consistent college counseling, many of our students require a comprehensive review of the college application and search process. Though our program only lasts six days, students receive intensive feedback on drafts of their college application, acquaint themselves with a plethora of college options, receive one-on-one guidance to determine a list of schools they will apply to, and experience a taste of what residential life away from home and in a campus setting offers. It is often a wake-up call to our students, many of whom are hungry to attain the best education they can with the aim to make an impact for their tribal communities back home.”
Since its founding, College Horizons has served some 2,500 students through its annual workshops. Many of the students come from reservations, island communities or Alaska villages and an even larger percentage live within 60 miles of their homelands. Approximately half the students College Horizons works with will be the first in their family to attend college and a small number have never flown on a plane prior to attending the program.
“It’s all part of the experience for our students; they are breaking the mold and creating a new path for themselves and for their families,” Lopez said. “We are simply linking these students to the tools necessary to showcase their hard work to colleges. The students we’ve served have already shown that their desire to empower themselves and their communities is what drives the process. That is why we have been so successful.”