Cheyenne Thomas is admittedly shy. She is also incredibly determined and constantly pushes herself to seek opportunities for growth. That’s why the Midnight Golf Program (MGP), with an emphasis on developing networking and communication skills, helped her get out of her shell and answer the burning question that is on the top of many college-bound high school seniors’ minds: Which college is right for me?
For Cheyenne, a 2018 MGP alumna and graduate of Redford Union High School, preparing for college was a journey both tactically and mentally. With excellent grades and SAT scores, Cheyenne had more options than many of her peers, but with that came unreasonable pressures. She recalls that going into her senior year, “I assumed I was going to an Ivy League school because that is what everyone around me was saying.”
That’s where MGP comes in. As Cheyenne realized, there are many other important factors that determine college fit, and while keeping your grades and SAT scores and managing college applications and essays are important to staying on track during your senior year, there are other essential factors that enable you to truly thrive at the next level.
“There are few more important transition periods in a young person’s development than the shift from high school to post-secondary education,” said Dave Gamlin, Vice President and Program Director for the Midnight Golf Program. “Midnight Golf helps students understand how to choose a college that ‘fits’ them best.”
According to Gamlin, other important “fit factors” that MGP helps students consider are, “Does the college have your major? Are you choosing a college that is financially viable and will not leave you with burdensome debt? Finally, is the campus atmosphere and proximity one where you see yourself fitting in and flourishing?”
These lessons hit home for students at different times during the 30-week Life Skills and Mentorship Training Program. For Cheyenne it wasn’t until she visited Duke University during the Road Trip for Success where she realized that she should seek a school which fit best for her needs, not just her grades.
One fit factor that was particularly important for Cheyenne was proximity. She knew staying too close to home would hold her back from developing her own identity and gaining confidence to pursue her dreams. Her sister, Shannessy Thomas, a 2017 MGP alumna, stayed in state and while that works for her, Cheyenne knew she would be too dependent on her family if she stayed close.
One person who was instrumental in this journey was her MGP mentor, Jason Malone. He understands that no one student is the same and therefore everyone has different needs when it comes to finding the best college fit. For some, that means looking beyond Detroit and even the state of Michigan.
“Going to school out of state gives you the opportunity to learn more about who you are and grow,” Jason said.
An Opportunity Found in an Unlikely Place
MGP often goes out of its way to provide its students with every opportunity to be successful, and in 2018 that meant literally traveling 550 miles to Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis. Because of a special relationship forged with its president, Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack – a native Detroiter – 25 MGP students, including Cheyenne, had an opportunity last April to tour HSSU’s campus.
“It was the last day of that visit that I told Dr. Warmack and Miss Reneé I was going to that school,” said Cheyenne. She appreciated the architecture, the environment and the drive. She was impressed with their philosophy that you should take 15 credits per semester and that you can graduate in four years. She also received a Presidential Scholarship, which covers her full tuition and expenses.
“It was all about empowerment for every kind of person you can be,” she said.
HSSU has proven to be a perfect fit for Cheyenne. Between the MGP alumni who look out for her and the opportunities afforded to her to participate in everything from the Student Ambassador program to being interviewed for a news story by a local TV station, Cheyenne is thrilled with her decision.
She’s not the only one. Currently 32 MGP alumni are studying at Harris-Stowe, many with scholarships provided by the university as a result of MGP’s relationship with the school.
A Proven Method for Success
For MGP, helping high school seniors navigate the college admission – and acceptance – process is both a science and an art. In addition to the Life Skills and Mentorship Program, MGP organizes workshops, career and college fairs and other programs throughout the year to expose students to many aspects of college life.
For example, the College Major Fair, held in January, prepared students for college by exposing them to different areas of study. At this event representatives from 24 university partners, including University of Detroit-Mercy, Michigan State University, Eastern Michigan University, Wayne State University and Cleary University exposed students to various major options, including journalism, STEM areas, and more.
MGP has served more than 2,500 students at 100+ colleges and universities throughout the country since 2001. 70% of MGP alumni graduate college within six years, a rate that is four-times higher than their peers. This success is largely attributed to the relationships that MGP forges with its students and the weight it puts on finding the right college fit.
This method for success is as strong today as it has ever been. In fact, of current the Class of 2019 alone, 124 students have already been accepted into 123 different colleges.
Thank you, Cheyenne, for your donation to this year’s Road Trip for Success. Your commitment to paying it forward is greatly appreciated.
To support MGP’s work in this area and students like Cheyenne, go to midnightgolf.org/success. To learn about partnership opportunities, contact Dave Gamlin at email@example.com.