Skills for the 21st Century

Capital One and NYC Outward Bound Support College March

Seniors Across the Country March College Applications to Post Offices in National College March

More than 1,300 seniors from 19 high schools in nine cities across the country participated in a national College March, and marched from their respective schools to local post offices or mail trucks to send off their college applications.

The College March, which originated in the NYC Outward Bound Schools network and has been supported by Capital One since its inception, expanded nationally in 2014.

The College March is a powerful symbol of the idea that every student, regardless of background or circumstance, has the potential to succeed academically and pursue a college education.

In a celebration of college-bound student work and goals, seniors from 19 high schools in nine cities across the country participated in a national College March and marched from their schools to local post offices or mail trucks on Friday, December 12. Students submitted their college applications as thousands of classmates, teachers, families, local businesses and community leaders cheered them on.

The College March, which originated in the NYC Outward Bound Schools network in New York City, expanded nationally this year. The annual ritual exhibits the grit, courage, and determination it takes for these students, most of whom are the first in their families to apply to college, to achieve their goals of higher education.

Recognized by President Barack Obama in his 2014 State of the Union address, the College March began in 2011 at WHEELS, a public school in the NYC Outward Bound Schools network, with help from Capital One. In 2012, the College March spread to every NYC Outward Bound high school, spanning all five boroughs of the City. Today, NYC Outward Bound Schools and Capital One are convening others across the country to join the March: from Expeditionary Learning schools in the Northeast and Midwest, to Communities in Schools-partnered high schools in the Mid Atlantic, to Uplift Charter Network schools in the South.

Most of the students participating in the March are the first in their families to apply to college, and for many English is a second language. Across the NYC Outward Bound Schools network, 77 percent of students are eligible for free/reduced lunch and 82 percent of 9th graders enter school behind grade level in English. Despite this reality, 95 percent of the network’s 2014 graduates were accepted to college, including Cornell, NYU, Brandeis and Vanderbilt.

The College March is a powerful symbol of the idea that every student, regardless of background or circumstance, has the potential to thrive at a high-quality institution of higher learning. As a school ritual, it helps establish college-going cultures in participating schools, reminding every student who marches – and every younger student who watches – that when their perseverance and hard work is met with academic preparation and school support, each of them can earn a degree. Practically speaking, it ensures that seniors get their college applications out in time for critical application deadlines.

“The College March exemplifies our school network’s commitment to preparing our students for college,” said Richard Stopol, President of NYC Outward Bound Schools. “We are honored to help grow this best practice with other schools across the nation who are invested in ensuring that all young people, regardless of background or circumstance, are prepared for and have access to a quality collegiate experience.”

“The College March celebrates the students’ determination to overcome adversity in the pursuit of a college education. We proudly support NYC Outward Bound Schools as this movement spreads nationwide,” said Michael Slocum, President, Commercial Banking & Northeast Regional President at Capital One Bank. “At Capital One, we support programs that prepare students for successful futures with the necessary skills and education, and we want every high school student to know that college is a possibility for them.”

“I'm the first person in my family to even think about applying to college,” said Melina Hernandez, a 2013 graduate of Community Leaders, a NYC Outward Bound School, and current sophomore at American University in Washington, DC. “When I participated in the College March, it was so inspiring to see everyone from the school and community cheering us on as we delivered our applications. I had such pride knowing I was one step closer to achieving this dream.”