Student Benefits

Our Students Succeed

Minds Matter of Chicago students…

  • Spend 3 years with the Minds Matter program
  • Meet every Saturday during the school year for 4-hour sessions of rigorous college preparation
  • Attend competitive summer academic programs at leading colleges
  • Have an average GPA of 3.6
  • See ACT improvement of 4.4 points (26% increase)
  • Enroll in 4-year colleges with significant financial aid

Being a Minds Matter Student

Students are admitted to Minds Matter as sophomores, and over the course of the next 3 years, work closely with 2 mentors, comple rigorous academic coursework, attend academic summer programs at leading colleges, and receive expert guidance on the college admissions process.

In order to complete the program, students must attend our 4-hour sessions every Saturday during the school year. Given this intensity, Minds Matter only admits high-achievers with strong determination to attend college.

Saturday Sessions

Our students attend Minds Matter sessions every Saturday during the school year.

Sophomore & Junior Programs

The Sophomore & Junior Programs help students gain admission to academic summer college preparatory programs in the U.S. and abroad.

Focus areas include:

  • Gaining a sense of independence
  • Time management skills
  • Developing new friendships
  • Getting a new perspective on the world

Mentors work with their students during sessions to select summer programs, prepare applications, create personal statements and essays, request letters of recommendation, and complete financial aid paperwork. Students also improve their basic academic skills and test-taking strategies for the ACT and SAT through the Test Prep Program,and improve their writing, logic and reasoning, presentation skills and understanding of current events through the Writing & Critical Thinking Program. Additionally, students participate in special workshops, panel discussions and field trips. After a student is admitted to a summer program and awarded a financial aid package, Minds Matter provides as much financial assistance as possible to supplement the school’s award.

Senior Program

Generally, students who successfully complete the Junior Program are invited to apply for the Senior Program. Seniors meet weekly throughout the school year and aggressively leads students through the college application process. Seniors retain their mentors from previous years, enhancing the foundation of strong friendship that often continues after the student graduates high school.

Focus areas include:

  • Essay writing
  • Interviewing
  • Financial aid applications
  • Organization and communication skills
  • Selecting a college major
  • Adapting to college life
  • Choosing a career path

The majority of our Seniors receive generous financial aid packages from schools based on their academic achievements and financial need. In cases where a student doesn’t receive adequate financial assistance, Minds Matter helps the family negotiate a more generous award and find other financial aid options. Minds Matter also provides a stipend to each student who successfully completes the Senior Program.

100% of Minds Matter graduates have been accepted at a 4-year college or university.

Test Preparation

Unlike costly test prep courses, Minds Matter provides students with free access to trained teachers, a structured curriculum, extensive study materials, and individual attention.

Sophomores and Juniors are grouped into teams based on individual development needs, and each team receives coaching from a volunteer Test Prep Instructor. The 17-week curriculum familiarizes sophomores, juniors, and seniors with the PSAT and ACT, provides test-taking strategies, refreshes basic skills, and provides several diagnostic exams to identify student strengths and areas of opportunity. When students return as seniors, they are given a refresher course to prepare them for their final opportunity to improve their scores in the December SAT.

Our program is based on methods developed by Kaplan. Minds Matter students consistently see score improvements equal to or higher than those attained by students in courses costing more than $1,000 per student.

Writing & Critical Thinking

Reognizing that students have different levels of writing skills, our Writing & Critical Thinking program gives dedicated attention in a 2-on-1 setting and in small groups. We integrate this learning with the process of applying for summer programs.

Essay Composition

Essay Composition develops students’ critical reading and listening skills, capacity for self-reflection, and confidence with language. Mentors help identify mentees’ writing strengths and weaknesses . By the end of the program, students produce a personal essay which serves as a strong foundation for college admissions essays.

What’s Going On In The World?

“What’s Going On In The World” exposes students to current events, encourages group discussion, and practices public speaking skills. Each student presents a pre-selected news article to his or her team and leads a discussion centered on that article. The same news topic is explored for a 3- or 4-week cycle to increase students’ familiarity with each topic and increase their confidence during discussion. In the final week, students argue one or the other side of the issue and engage in a debate with their peers.