Undergraduate Academic Affairs

July 14, 2022

A pathway with promise

Danielle Marie Holland

In June, 2021, Vice Provost and Dean Ed Taylor joined then-Mayor Jenny Durkan and educational leaders to announce increased funding for the successful Seattle Promise college tuition and success program. The new funding prepares and supports Seattle Promise students in several ways, including their application and then transfer to the UW.

As reported by The Seattle Times, in the news conference Taylor “likened it to a relay race, with the batons passed smoothly from high schools to community colleges and then to the UW.”

Aerial photo of Suzzallo Library

The first cohort of participants in the Path to UW partnership have wrapped up a year of advice and support.

The baton was passed to the UW as the partnership officially launched September 2021. The first cohort of participants in the Path to UW partnership have wrapped up a year of advice and support. Eighty-three Seattle Promise students applied to the UW during this process, and 60 were admitted for the upcoming 2022-23 academic school year.

Resources and more info for and about the transfer student experience

For the next cohort, a pool of around 1,100 students in Seattle Promise will have the ability to access the Path to UW adviser, Lily Peterson, and could choose to move forward in applying for a UW transfer. Path to UW programming includes events and workshops to help students explore transferring to the UW, prepare to apply and transfer to the UW, individualized admissions and advising support, and summer seminar courses to help students prepare academically for the transition to the UW.

Many Seattle Promise students would be the first in their families to earn a college degree, come from low-income backgrounds, or experience other barriers to higher education. For these students, this can make the college application and transition process ambiguous and difficult to navigate. An adviser with experience in admissions, financial aid applications and academic planning helps students transfer successfully by supporting each student in learning how and what information to access to get their needs met in a larger system.

Path to UW adviser Peterson’s own pathway to advising is rooted in her belief in access to higher education and support for all students. Peterson’s dual roles of UW undergraduate academic adviser and UW adviser to Path to UW have allowed her to witness firsthand the discrepancy between societal narratives of equity in access to higher education versus the lived reality. Peterson sums up the goal of the Path project as “supporting students who are furthest from educational justice.”

Photo of Lily Peterson outdoors

Adviser Lily Peterson helps students in the Seattle Promise program make their way to the UW.Photo by Ian Teodoro

Peterson explains, “People assume that everybody has the same access to being able to apply to and be competitive and successfully enter into a four-year institution. But realistically, a lot of students are not even given a chance because of barriers, because of funding.”

Many students who Peterson and her fellow advisers support are navigating numerous unseen barriers that impact educational access, from funding and financial responsibilities, familial obligations, limited resources of time and even wider community responsibilities.

Knowledge and understanding of these intersections of systems help advisers apply holistic approaches to their work. Advisers help students understand the university system so they are better prepared to move through it. Identifying each student’s personal educational goals and dreams, advisers can accompany them with opportunities, information and tools so that they may realize them. Peterson additionally helps students efficiently connect to UW units, and she partners closely with directors and staff in UW resources.

As the Path to UW continues into its second year, advisers will walk alongside them, checking in to learn, “What are the students’ influences or family impacts on their decisions? What timelines do they need to be on? Where have they felt seen or unseen in representation? Do they feel safe and able to participate in certain programs?” For Peterson, learning the answers to these questions enables her to better understand the student in front of her and is fundamental to her practice of advising.