She Says Advising Is “Virtually” Empowering

Allison Robbins, a first-year virtual adviser, finds great reward in helping her low-income to moderate-income students navigate the complex college application process.

Allison Robbins, who grew up in Woodstock, Georgia, remembers her own experience of applying to college as confusing.

“I was overwhelmed by the vast number of schools and didn’t know how to choose the best option,” recounted Robbins, a first-generation college graduate. “My parents and I did not know much about the college-going process.”

Robbins went on to enroll at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. In the fall of 2018, she transferred to her dream school—the University of Georgia (UGA).

Robbins’ passion for college access came into focus while conducting an internship at the university’s career center, connecting her with undergraduates wanting one-on-one college and career advising. This past work enables her to appreciate the impact it has made on her college access work today.

“Every student begins their application process with varied knowledge, so I believe that it is important to help each student find answers and pursue their goals,” said Robbins, who now serves as a first-year College Advising Corps (CAC) virtual adviser on the CollegePoint Initiative.

Through a partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, CAC’s CollegePoint team—comprised of recent college graduates serving as near-peer virtual advisers—helps low to moderate-income seniors and their families navigate the complicated college application and matriculation process.

Robbins believes virtual advising plays an important role—especially during the current pandemic.

“With the disruption of traditional in-person support networks, our model allows us to connect with students through texts, emails, phone calls, and video chat, in ways that work best for them,” she said.

Shelby Ware, a CollegePoint program manager, emphasizes Robbins’ significant commitment to meeting students and families where they are.

“Allison centers her work around her students, making sure they have a support system and access to information,” Ware said. “By early September, she had already met with 71% of her students and engaged with 27% of families, encouraging their involvement early in the application process.”

At the end of this application cycle, Robbins hopes her support will help students make their best-informed decision.

“I hope my students know I’m in their corner,” Robbins said, smiling. “I want them to feel empowered as they take the next step in achieving their goals.”

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About the author: Hannah Williams is a third-year College Advising Corps virtual adviser with the CollegePoint Initiative.