Project Level the Field (LTF), a University-based volunteer initiative, hosted a college application workshop at Edison Career and Technology High School on Oct. 4; the event was the first in a series of four to come over the next few weeks.

Featuring a presentation about the CommonApp and available application resources as well as small-group discussion to help students build college lists, the workshop highlighted future academic and career opportunities for Rochester students, and encouraged them to reach out for help – free of cost.

Project LTF’s primary mission is provision of high-quality college application resources to all students, regardless of background or financial means. Supplementing school counselor workload and providing new avenues for college and career exploration, LTF fulfills a vast need in the Rochester community, and looks to expand to the university level.

“We help others just as we were helped,” says University junior and Vice President Michael Christof. “To lead the next generation, we must be willing to share our experiences and offer help to those in need.”

Among the services provided by Project LTF are one-on-one mentoring, a suggested application timeline and unique organizational resources, essay review, and interview preparation – all of which are free of cost. Mentor-mentee relationships are maintained throughout the application cycle, with the goal of fully seeing each student through their success.

“The current ranges for admissions counseling is $150-200 an hour,” says University senior and co-founder and Director of Outreach Adarsh Mavathaveedu. “It’s really unfortunate that applicants aren’t judged for the quality of their application, but for the money they pour into it.”

In Oct. 2022, Mavathaveedu helped his younger brother throughout the college application process and realized the value of his experience and guidance in understanding college admissions and financial aid.

Recognizing that many students could use the same guidance, Mavathaveedu recruited co-founders — sophomores Hana Zhang and Keira Donnelly — to the cause, and Project LTF was born. While the program was being established, the trio recruited mentors and advisors from various universities, including Princeton, NJIT, and North Carolina State.

Since its inception, Project LTF has expanded to 19 undergraduate mentors and peer advisors, and 46 involved high school students – the focus for now, though, remains on benefiting the local community.

Over the course of the next few weeks, LTF will host three more events with Edison Tech, guiding students to build their college lists, set up their CommonApp, write and give elevator pitches, and succeed in their career of choice.

“Rochester has an astonishingly low graduation rate, a low percentage of kids who go onto higher education, and a high poverty rate, and they often tie into each other,” said Zhang. “It’s important that we have our home base here and first give back to the community that gives so much to us as our home away from home.”

The organization is actively working on building connections with local districts and charter schools, and is seeking funding to provide a university tour for prospective students. Beyond college admissions, mentors also seek to provide holistic review of vocational and career alternatives to college, as well as a general understanding of options after high school.

Up next on their radar is expansion of mentorship into higher education; LTF is slated to conduct their first annual Pre-Med Symposium in collaboration with fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon.

Featuring insights from University research ambassadors, emergency department research associates, and tried-and-true senior pre-med students, the symposium aims to ease anxiety about the application process, answer questions regarding preparation, and provide advice to underclassmen about next steps.

“One of our main goals is to build the LTF community here at UR,” says Mavathaveedu. “Everyone here is pretty collaborative, and we want to help one another succeed.”

The symposium will take place on Nov. 3 from 4-6 p.m. in Wegmans 1400. For more information or resources from Project Level the Field, visit www.projectlevelthefield.com.



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