March 07, 2016

Four keys to college success

In many traditional educational settings, students are taught what to think. At the Tiger Woods Foundation, we create unique opportunities for students to jump-start their own thinking process and help them make their own decisions in the future.

College success and access is vital to our programs, and project-based learning is seamlessly integrated for our middle school students all the way to our college-aged scholars. There are four key components we incorporate in all our work: communication, self-advocacy, teamwork and giving back.  


Communication is key in all aspects of life and decision-making. Too often, we see youth rely on teachers, counselors, parents or other mentors to take the lead in asking the questions for them. But what happens when they go off to college?

In our Essential Skills for the College Process workshop for high school students, we mock up different scenarios they may experience via email, over the phone or even in an in-person meeting with a college admissions officer. Then we have them come up with their own ways to approach these situations. 

You know what you’re doing is working when students call you and say, “My family couldn’t pay for the college deposit fee, so I called their financial aid office myself.”

We want our students not only to prepare for these types of situations during their college process, but we want them to have the ability to advocate for themselves once they go off to college. Our third- and fourth-year college students participate in mock interviews with professionals in their respective fields. It’s an essential experience that helps them brush up on their verbal skills for any future internship, graduate school or employment interviews. 


Many of the students that come through our doors are the first in their families to pursue a higher education and are challenged with endless obstacles that can deter any student from asking for help, be it financial hardships, having to care for younger siblings or simply not having the support system to encourage them to dream big. But when we prepare them to advocate for themselves, it not only positively changes their skill set, but their access to opportunities as well. Each student becomes the moving force of their own learning. 

The summer before our students go off to college they participate in a pre-college retreat. A series of workshops cover topics from campus safety to relationship building with professors to financial literacy. These lessons help our students hone in on experiences they could face on their college campus. 

When they call us and share a challenge they faced with a roommate or a professor that they solved on their own, we see it as a success story!


Relationship building and group work is crucial to a successful college experience. Introverted, extroverted or somewhere in the middle, we have students of all personalities. One of the most engaging ways we emphasize the importance of teamwork is through a scavenger hunt. Students are paired up and go through a series of obstacles that test their patience, creativity and communication. In a span of two hours, students learn about their colleges, their aspirations and their level of competitiveness! 

Giving back

Lastly, one of my favorite components instilled in our programs is giving back to the community. From creating paracord bracelets for military troops to packing non-perishable food for families in need, you notice how our students are passionate about giving back. And many bring it full circle to our programs. As they are about to finish college or embark on a new career opportunity, we often see alumni return to share their successes and challenges with younger students.  

Learn more about the college-access programs of the Tiger Woods Foundation.

Champions of the unexpected for 20 years.