Evanston Scholars pose as they take a break from Onsite Admissions Forum interviews. Submitted photo.

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Oct. 27 marked the ninth annual Onsite Admissions Forum, where nearly 900 Chicago-area academically ambitious low-income students, many of whom will be the first in their families to attend college, interview with and are often accepted on the spot to colleges across the nation.

This is Evanston Scholars’ fifth year participating in Onsite, sending their 29 high school senior Scholars, along with their support team of mentors and Evanston Scholars’ staff, to this year’s event held at Navy Pier in Chicago.

At Onsite 2015, admissions officers from 148 colleges were present to interview and recruit the Evanston Scholars as well as students in the Chicago Scholars program and other Chicago-area college access programs. Students submitted a minimum of three college applications in preparation for the event. Admissions officers reviewed applications ahead of time and came prepared with letters of acceptance and scholarship awards, or messages of deferral along with requests for additional information, such as first-semester senior grades.

“The Onsite Admissions Forum was fantastic. It was a really great way to meet college administrators, and get a YES on my college applications at the same time,” said Evanston Scholar Malcolm Gill, who was accepted to Knox College, Dominican University, and Manhattanville College.

“Our Scholars participated in 130 total interviews at Onsite,” said Alison Segal, director of college access for Evanston Scholars, “and 24 out of 29 of our Evanston Scholars received acceptance letters that day.”

Those acceptance letters came from such schools as Bradley University, Arizona State University, Butler University, Marist College, George Washington University and Augustana College. Along with these acceptances, several Evanston Scholars also received merit scholarship offers, with an average offer of $14,500 per year.

“They have been working so hard since this summer to select good-fit schools, write essays, and complete their applications,” explains Alison Segal, adding,  “we are extremely proud of all of them.”

Evanston Scholars is a non-profit organization that improves college access and success for a diverse group of ambitious Evanston students who are primarily first-generation, low-income, and students of color. The six-year program provides more than 250 hours of programming to every student, including workshops, mentoring, college visits, ACT preparation, and individualized college counseling to help students succeed in college.

The goal of the program is to see more students start and finish college. Without help, students face dismal odds: The college persistence rate for low-income and first-generation students is only 11 percent – while 94 percent of Evanston Scholars who started college are still enrolled.

Through mentors, peer relationships, and learning opportunities, Evanston Scholars seeks to bolster students’ support systems and help them find the school that meets their academic, social, and financial needs, thus improving their chance of obtaining a college degree.