It was a sleepy Friday afternoon, but seniors at university neighborhood high school are eagerly preparing for what they say may be the most important decision of their lives.
College applications are due this month and next. Students are deciding which colleges to apply to, all thanks they say to College Summit.
College Summit is a national nonprofit that sends employees and volunteers into New York City schools to teach students about the college application process.
Mike Everett-Lane, the executive director of the program, says that in low-income communities only about 9 out of 100 students go to college.
"We have a peer influence model, we know the most influential person in a 17-year-old's life are other 17-year-olds so we train a core of students to be peer leaders, to evangelize in their school and create a college going culture," he says.
College Summit also presents a year-long curriculum where everything from personal statements to financial aid is covered in person and online.
Jaquay Saintio says besides streamlining the college application process, College Summit has raised his level of confidence.
"I actually gained motivation and determination," he says. "I'm not afraid to do things or say things as I have been before."
College Summit employee Gary Linnen says observing that transformation is gratifying.
"It's that moment when you have an opportunity to see a student who before would have never thought about going to college," he says. "These individuals are now stepping outside their box and going to places like Syracuse, going to schools like Cornell University, going to schools that they would have never considered before."
College Summit is in about two dozen New York City schools. The schools have to pay for the program, which costs about $80 per student. But the principal of University Neighborhood High says it is well worth it.