KIPP Goes to College:
Our Advice for Those Just Getting Started

We know the adjustment to college isn’t always easy, but we also know it gets better. To help make month two a little bit easier, we’ve being asking some of our KIPP alumni, KIPP Through College leaders, and staff from our partner universities to share their college experiences and advice.

George Ramirez, KIPP NYC alumnus (Yale University)

By Zoe Fenson, KIPP Foundation Writer

Many KIPPsters from the class of 2015 are about to complete their first full month of college. Congrats! We know the adjustment isn’t always easy, but we also know it gets better. To help make month two a little bit easier, we’ve being asking some of our KIPP alumni, KIPP Through College leaders, and staff from our partner universities to share their college experiences and advice.

For the second post in our KIPP Goes to College series (read part 1), here’s their best advice for students who are preparing for college, or those starting their first year!


What is your number one piece of advice for KIPPsters preparing to start college?

“Always say ‘thank you,’ and treat everybody, no matter their station in life, with the dignity and respect they deserve. How we treat each other is what we’ll truly be remembered for.”
Donnell Bailey, KIPP New Orleans alumnus (Franklin & Marshall College Junior)


“Three words: GO TO CLASS.”
David Ling, KIPP Through College Director, KIPP Bay Area Schools (UC Berkeley)


“Ask questions!  College is about asking, ‘What if?’ ‘Why not?’ ‘How could we do this differently?’ Through asking questions, we learn to imagine a world other than the one we already know.”
Carol Quillen, President, Davidson College (University of Chicago)


“Proofread. I had a professor who would say that he’d give a student a pass for the first typo, dock half a grade for the second, dock another half a grade for the third, and stop reading after the fourth— because if it wasn’t worth our time, it wasn’t worth his time.”
Mariko Silver, President, Bennington College (Yale University)


“Seek out opportunities and resources. Attend club fairs, travel abroad, seek help from professors and faculty, and develop strong relationships.”
Francis Cheng, KIPP Bay Area alumnus (Bates College)


“Challenge yourself by taking courses out of your comfort zone. The best experiences you will have in college are ones that stretch your thinking and help you move into new areas.”
David Oxtoby, President, Pomona College (Harvard University)


“Take classes in ethnic studies. As a student of color, one of the most difficult things I’ve faced is developing the language necessary to speak up for myself about issues historically underrepresented students face in college. These classes will allow you to create a powerful voice in the classroom that will help you to succeed anywhere you go.”
George Ramirez, KIPP NYC alumnus (Yale University) Pictured above


“Have a system that keeps you organized, whether it’s carrying a planner or making notes in your calendar. Being organized and not procrastinating will save you a lot of stress in college.”
Jasmine Respass, KIPP Baltimore alumna (University of Baltimore)


“Never be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ and to ask for help, when needed.  Also, learn from your mistakes – you will never get everything right, but as you learn you hopefully won’t make the same mistake twice.”
Tamara Siler, Senior Associate Director of Admission, Rice University (Rice University)


“Know what keeps you grounded. When you get to campus, find an activity or group on campus that you can get involved with that will keep you motivated to achieve your goals.”
Becky Hamilton, Director of College Access & Career Services, KIPP NYC Public Charter Schools (James Madison University)


“‘Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.’ That was a Maggie Kuhn quote on a bumper sticker given to me by an older student. It continues to guide me to this day.”
Jacqueline Amparo, Associate Director of Equity and Access, University of Pennsylvania (UC Berkeley)


“Embrace what makes you unique – your background and experiences are just as valuable as anyone else’s. Be proud to share your story because others will learn from it – you have so much to offer.”
Ilyan Nuñez, Director of College & Career Placement, KIPP New Jersey (Drew University)


“Stay focused and remember the reasons you’re attending college. It is easy to get distracted by the different social activities on campus. While it is important to network and meet new people in college, you must remember the ultimate purpose is to continue your studies and further your education. It is not enough to just go to college; you must finish and finish strong!”
Brittany Ballentine, KIPP Baltimore alumna (Fordham University)


“Stay confident that you BELONG in that college community, wherever you may be. You have already demonstrated strength both in and out of the classroom, and there are people out there who are confident in your attributes, too. Never give up – ¡Siempre Pa’lante!”
Jessica Hess, Associate Director of Admissions, Lycoming College (Bucknell University)


“Never forget the values KIPP helped teach you. As I enter my final year of college, I still find myself explaining to people the importance of Team and Family. Every value that I strengthened at KIPP Memphis was helpful then, helpful now, and will be helpful after college. There is a reason for the repetition.”
Roquel Crutcher, KIPP Memphis alumna (American University Senior)


Learn more about how KIPP supports students on their paths to and through college >